The 2014 Chevrolet Spark has been named a Top Safety Pick in its first year of eligibility.
The Spark is also the only vehicle in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety minicar segment to earn the rating in 2014 model year testing.
The small Chevy achieved highest possible “good” scores in the IIHS’s moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints tests, and scored an “acceptable” in IIHS’s new small overlap test. This latest is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole.
“Spark’s impressive performance in IIHS’s most stringent test yet demonstrates the intensive efforts of our global safety team to deliver big safety in a small package,” said Gay Kent, General Motors general director of Vehicle Safety and Crashworthiness. “Spark’s safety structure makes extensive use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels and its robust passenger protection package includes 10 standard air bags.”
The minicar segment present unique challenges when designing such a small vehicle for crashworthiness. Chevrolet said the Spark’s relatively short wheelbase of 93.5 inches required the Spark team to strengthen the car’s front-end structure to better absorb and distribute impact energy around occupants. A cradle extension offers additional support in frontal collisions.
Chevrolet also explained that lightweight, high-strength steels constitute more than 62 percent of Spark’s under body and 42 percent of its upper body. The car’s rigid door beams and H-shaped structure under the seating area are designed to enhance protection in side impacts, and its high-strength cross members are designed to help manage crush space in side impacts.
The Spark’s roof bow and B-pillar also use high-strength steels to help preserve the occupant space in a rollover crash. Likewise, the high-strength rear rail is designed to help protect the fuel tank in side and rear impacts.
Still on the safety side, the Spark’s driver and passenger front knee air bags are designed to reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries in frontal crashes, added Chevrolet. Further protection is provided by dual-stage frontal air bags, seat-mounted side air bags and side curtain air bags that extend over the front and rear seating rows.
Chevrolet also said additional safety features include a rollover sensing system, three-point safety belts in all four seating positions, safety belt pretensioners in the front driver and passenger seats, the required LATCH child seat attachment system, adjustable head restraints and collapsible steering column.