The 3 series is still a top safety pick for 2012 by IIHS (for now), however, they just added another test to the mix: small overlap front test, which tests the vehicle when the front end hits a smaller object (like a telephone poll) off center. While every other test result was good (including moderate overlap front test), the 3 series received a marginal rating for the small overlap test. (ratings are judged good, acceptable, marginal or poor).
Test results suggested a risk of injury to lower left leg, ankle and heel likely in this type of crash, and possible to lower right leg, ankle and heel as well. They claim risk of significant injuries to other body regions is low.
The only mid size luxury vehicles with a good rating on the small overlap test were the Volvo s60 (of course!) p and acura TL.
The TSX, BMW 3 series, Lincoln MKZ and VW CC all rated marginal on the small overlap test.
The A4, Lexus es 350 and IS 250/350 and C class rated poor- the lowest possible test result. .
IIHS gives highest weight in determining overall rating to moderate overlap test, followed by side, rollover and then rear.
The small overlap front test is not currently included in top safety pick criteria and carries the least weight, if any, in the too picks for 2012. E
It isn't clear if the overall satey picks will be modified in light of the new testing. Kind of a bummer to think you are getting a car that rivals a Volvo for safety only to find that it's performance on an important safety criteria is considerably poorer. But also happy to know that the safety engineers are always working hard to
Refine and revise their methodology.
From this day forth, I shall strenuously avoid any telephone polls that jump out in front of my car.