The internet backlash against the new IIHS test is pretty insane. I'd have to point out that this test was developed entirely because so many fatal accidents occur during off-angle collisions in smaller or older vehicles. Is it so surprising the IIHS would want to test for strength in a situation where occupants could be seriously injured or killed in certain cars?
I think some people get the IIHS philosophically confused with the NHTSA, too. I know most of us know it, but maybe a clear reminder is in order that the IIHS has nothing to do with the government - it's a bunch of insurance companies trying to reduce the cost of accident claims. In fact, it's one of the few NGOs actually doing some good for auto safety these days, because the goal of the insurance companies aligns precisely with what is generally the public interest: safer cars for normal people. They don't pull these tests out of their asses, they have the largest and most detailed database of accident information in the US to based this stuff on and, I'm sorry, but I really doubt any of us know better than the IIHS engineers and statisticians how to design a rigorous collision test that will significantly reduce passenger car injuries and fatalities.
The IIHS wants all vehicles, no matter how small or cheap, to have a high level of occupant protection in multiple scenarios, so that fewer people are maimed or killed* (interestingly, it's more the maimed they're worried about, death claims are way cheaper than serious lifelong disability claims).
I get that it's cool for the Jalop crowd to champion "personal responsibility" and "growing a pair" and "I sat in the front seat of my dad's 48 Ford and played with firecrackers for years and I'm still alive and have all my limbs so you can deal with it" but you have to realize: 98% of people don't care about cars that much. They don't care about how heavy they are, how many electronic "nannies" they have, or that the Econobox X base model might cost $800 more next year because it has a more complex, harder-to-repair platform.
Car & Driver is just hopping on the debunk bandwagon that I guarantee the manufacturers of said maligned subcompacts are frantically trying to sell everyone on right now. I'm sorry, did I just read a bunch of Jalopnik commenters defend the evil beigeifying car makers of the world? It's almost like the manufacturers might have a business interest in getting a public hatestorm built around this test so the IIHS will dump it before it's too late.
Remember all the hate the rollover test got when it was introduced? In retrospect, does that test seem all that stupid now that everyone's driving around big, tall SUVs? Small cars need strict safety standards, too, and it's not fair to be skeptical of only one party here. I respect everyone's right to disagree with the IIHS, but let's not pretend there isn't very real profit motive for the manufacturers of these cars to discredit this test.
And really, it's "unfair" because some of the cars being tested are old? No shit they're old. It's almost as though testing cars based on older platforms might encourage the manufacturers of said vehicles to up the ante on introducing new / updated vehicles. Also, I get that a new Fit is coming, but the IIHS' testing applies to both new and used car buyers, so I take zero issue with them testing a car that's soon to be phased out. It's on the market, there are a lot of them out there, consumers deserve the information.
I think we all need to think carefully about just what we're endorsing when we knock the IIHS here. They aren't perfect, but let's be realistic: if the insurance companies think it's worth the over/under to develop and run this test (no cheap proposition), something they have probably researched to the Nth degree, I'm more inclined to side with them on it than say, Honda, whose entire reaction is on the basis of potentially losing profits on cars sold.