Dear Automobile Talk: I have actually always been a fan of the Kia Soul’s styling. I just recently leased one and fidgeted about how close to the actual rear of the car the rear seats is. There’s not a ton of space in between the rear and the rear seat window. It seems like this car and others like it are putting the rear-seat residents in a vulnerable position in case of the car being rear-ended.
I have actually never ever seen any information on an automobile’s security in a rear-end collision. Exist requirements? Are modern cars and trucks like this safe?
Thanks for your entertainment all of these years!– Steve
If you get the Soul, Steve, make certain you’re always the one who drives.
It’s an excellent concern. The National Traffic Highway and Safety Administration rates rear-passenger security but only for side impacts.
They imitate someone blowing through a traffic signal at 38 mph and plowing into the side of your car. And for that test, the Kia Soul succeeds. However they don’t really evaluate rear-end collisions.
It definitely makes instinctive sense that the less mass you have behind you to crumple and absorb the energy of an effect, the more force might get delivered to the body of the rear-seat traveler, relative to cars and trucks with trunks or large cargo locations. I think it’s fair to be worried.
This might make you feel a little much better: From what we can find, about 28% of all collisions were rear-end crashes. Just about 6% of all crash casualties were from rear-end crashes. That recommends that the rear seat– in general– is a reasonably safe place to be.
And with the spread of collision warning sensors and automated emergency situation braking, I would envision the number and severity of rear-end collisions will decrease in the future.
Rear-seat security is not as great as it needs to be. Why? Because, in general, car security is determined by how well the front-seat passengers fare.
It makes some sense that the huge security organizations (NHTSA and the Insurance Coverage Institute for Highway Safety) concentrate on front-seat security, because more individuals travel in front seats than rear seats. However the result is that front-seat security has enhanced a lot over the previous couple of years, and rear-seat security has dragged.
So while makers, eager to score well in the released security scores, added strategically-placed air bags up front, in addition to seatbelt pre-tensioners (to cinch a person into appropriate position before a crash) and load limiters (to tactically launch seatbelt tension during a crash to secure bones from being broken), that stuff hasn’t been generally used to back seats.
That need to alter when NHTSA and IIHS start releasing rear-seat crash results. We have actually been waiting on that for years, and it keeps getting postponed.
On the other hand, only about a 3rd of cars have those important security features in the back (pre-tensioners, load limiters and rear side air bags), and you need to research private cars and trucks to figure out if the car you‘re interested in has them.
From our research, the companies that seem to be ahead of others in this regard are Nissan, BMW, Ford/Lincoln, Toyota/Lexus, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes.
Check before you buy.
—— Got a question about cars and trucks? Write to Ray in care of King Characteristics, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or e-mail by checking out the Vehicle Talk site at www.cartalk.com.
© 2020 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman