DETROIT - The popular Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze scored only a "marginal" rating in stringent front-end crash tests performed by an insurance industry group.
It was one of 12 compact and subcompact cars tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Half fared poorly, but six performed well. Safety is critical in the fast-growing small-car market, with many buyers downsizing from larger vehicles.
The two-door and four-door Civics earned the only "good" ratings, while the Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and the 2014 Scion tC were "acceptable."
Sonic and the Volkswagen Beetle also received "marginal" ratings, while the Nissan Sentra and the Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte each were rated "poor."
The cars were rated for their performance in the insurance institute's "small overlap" test of crashes that cover only 25 percent of a vehicle's front end. These tests, added to the IIHS's evaluations last year, are forcing automakers to bolster the front-end structure of all cars in order to avoid bad publicity from a poor performance.
The IIHS tests are more stringent than the U.S. government's full-width front crash test. The market for small cars is one of fastest-growing in the nation. So far this year, Americans have bought more than 1.8 million new small cars, up 12 percent over a year ago, according to Autodata Corp.