Small cars yield mixed results in crash test, but improving overall

(Photo source:
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(CNN) -- Small cars on the U.S. market are gaining traction with consumers, but some new models have more work to do to catch the Honda Civic, designated by a respected safety group as an industry leader.

The 2013 two- and four-door Civics turned in a "good" performance -- the highest score -- in a new type of tough front crash test earlier this year to earn the highest accolade from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Four other cars, including the Dodge Dart from Chrysler and the Ford Focus, more recently posted acceptable ratings in the same IIHS test. But that was good enough for them to earn top overall status as well from the organization, even though the Civic did better.

But three models, including the Chevy Cruze produced by General Motors, and the Volkswagen Beetle, posted marginal results and fell short of the loftiest rating for comprehensive safety, which also factors in results from other IIHS front, side, rollover and rear crash tests.

The Nissan Sentra and two other vehicles made by Kia fared poorly in the test.