Shopping For Grads: You May Think Twice About An Old Used Car After Seeing This Video

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This crash of a 2015 Toyota Corolla vs. a 1998 Corolla, shows just how much safer a new car is compared to an old one.

A reinforced A-pillar. Front and side airbags. Small things we now take for granted. Just how important things like these safety features are can be hard to determine in most modern single-car crash tests in which almost all cars earn top scores. But what if you crash the same model from about two decades earlier into a modern car? The Austrailian version of America’s IIHS, called ANCAP, did just that and it chose the Toyota Corolla as its example.

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The Corolla hatchback in the video is not identical to our IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rated Corolla sedan here in the U.S., but it is representative of Toyota’s modern safety technology.

This frontal offset crash was performed at 64 km/h (40 miles/hour), the same speed that IIHS conducts its testing on U.S. models. As you can see in the video, the newer white Toyota Corolla from 2015 has an arched A-Pillar that stays intact, only buckling as the crash concludes. This allows energy from the crash to travel to the roof and rear structure of the car and keep the occupant compartment intact. In the slow-motion video footage from inside the car, one can see how the restraints actuate pulling the seatbelt tight on the dummy, holding the dummy in place, and then allow for some movement of the belt to reduce G forces. The result is that the dummy’s head is slowed enough, and in such a manner, that the airbag can effectively deploy before the dummy’s head comes forward.

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By contrast, the older Corolla fails to protect the driver. ANCAP Chief Executive Officer, James Goodwin, summed up the 1998 Corolla’s performance, saying, “The older car sustained catastrophic structural failure with dummy readings showing an extremely high risk of serious head, chest and leg injury to the driver. It achieved a score of just 0.40 out of 16 points – zero stars.”

ANCAP says that the rate of fatal crashes in new cars four times higher than that of older vehicles. ANCAP’s Goodwin cast the test in the light of a young person and their family considering a new car’s safety vs. an old car’s affordability, saying, “It is unfortunate we tend to see our most at-risk drivers – the young and inexperienced, as well as the elderly and more frail – in the most at-risk vehicles, and we hope this test promotes a conversation to encourage all motorists to consider the safety of their car.”