IIHS Obvious Conclusion of the Day: Mismatched bumpers cost thousands in repairs

iihs small car bumper tests opt 420x300 IIHS Obvious Conclusion of the Day: Mismatched bumpers cost thousands in repairs

As you’re likely aware, all cars must pass strict federal guidelines in order to be sold in America, and those regulations include specific bumper heights. What you may not know, however, is that trucks and SUVs aren’t required to meet the same guidelines as passenger cars. Factor in the huge numbers of SUVs and crossovers that are sold each year and you begin to see why can cause major problems.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this conundrum is by way of a photo gallery, which the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has so thoughtfully provided. As is the Institute’s custom, it has gone ahead and crashed a small sedan head-to-head into a typical SUV from the same automaker at low speeds (10mph). The results are conclusive, and they mean big repair bills for the owner (or, naturally, their insurance company) of the smaller car. Despite the modest velocities, repair estimates ranged from $850 to a whopping $6,015.

Of the seven pairs of vehicles damaged-for-a-cause in this round of low-speed testing, the Honda Civic andCR-V performed the best, with bumpers that actually overlapped by more than two inches. By way of contrast, the Toyota Corolla and RAV4 performed the worst. Says Joe Nolan, the Institute’s chief administrative officer:

The RAV4′s so-called bumper is really just a stamped piece of sheet metal supporting the bumper cover. So instead of engaging a strong bumper, the striking Corolla hit the spare tire mounted on the RAV4′s tailgate. The spare isn’t designed to absorb crash energy, so it damaged the Corolla’s hood, grille, headlights, air conditioner, and radiator support and crushed the RAV4′s tailgate and rear body panels.

Ouch. For a complete visual understanding of all the carnage, be sure to check out our high-res image gallery below. And for more explanation on each pair’s results – including the Ford Focus and Escape, Kia Forte andHyundai Tucson and Nissan Sentra and Rogue – click past the break for the official press release.