The redesigned 2014 Toyota Corolla didn't fail the latest crash tests conducted by the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety IIHS. But it didn't get top marks either.
Six other small cars did earn the IIHS's Top Safety Pick rating earlier this year, while six more earned just a Top Safety Pick (without the Plus) designation.
The new Corolla, which was unavailable at the time of those tests and has just recently been tested, joined that latter group.
The difference that denied it a Plus rating was its performance in a recently-adopted "small overlap front crash test," which was rated "marginal."
To earn the Plus designation, a vehicle has to achieve "good" or "acceptable" performance in the small-overlap test as well as "good" ratings in each of four other criteria – moderate overlap front crash, side impact and rollover tests, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.
The small overlap test was added to the Institute's crash test program last year. It simulates the front corner of a vehicle colliding with another vehicle or a fixed object like a tree or a utility pole.
In declaring the Corolla's performance in that test "marginal," the IIHS noted that its structural performance was poor and the driver's space was seriously compromised by intruding structure.
Data from the instrumented dummy indicated that injuries to the left lower leg would be possible in a real-world crash of this severity and the dummy's head was vulnerable to contact with forward structures like the windshield pillar and instrument panel.
The Corolla currently qualifies for the 2013 TOP SAFETY PICK award, without the Plus, for good ratings in the Institute's four other tests.