Nightly News   |  May 16, 2013

And the top two small SUVs are…

Of the 13 models tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 11 flunked and only two performed well. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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>>> attention car owners and potential buyers. they are among the fastest selling vehicles in the u.s. these days. you're going to recognize a lot of these brands. they are the family car for a lot of american families. there are an estimated 11 million of them on the road in this country, but now the new crash test results we have for you tonight are raising questions about safety. our report from nbc's john yang .

>> reporter: of the 13 models tested by the insurance institute for highway safety , 11 rated poor or marginal.

>> we only have two of the 13 vehicles performing well in the new test. that being said, i'm optimistic that in the future the other vehicles will be redesigned to perform well.

>> reporter: the top two -- the subaru forester and the mitsubishi outlander sport. the new test replicates what are called small overlap crashes like hitting a tree or utility pole or an oncoming car.

>> when we look back at what kind of frontal crashes are still resulting in serious injury and death, small overlap crashes account for about 25% of those.

>> reporter: small suvs are among the hottest selling cars in america today. 1.5 million sold this year alone. they're becoming the family car of choice.

>> small suvs are selling about three times faster than regular automobiles in the united states for a couple of reasons. one, people want the cargo and the utility. and two, they want greater fuel efficiency.

>> reporter: in some cases, drivers could be at risk. in the nissan rogue , the front door frame ended up almost touching the driver's seat. the jeep patriot steering wheel was displaced so far, the crash test dummy 's head missed the airbug. nissan -- airbag. nissan says it will review results as we seek opportunities for improvement. chrysler, when makes jeep, says, "the patriot meets or exceeds all government regulatory requirements and has performed well in real-world scenarios." the insurance institute still ranks 2013 and '14 jeep patriots a top safety pick along with eight other models that fell short in the new test. but, the group says, they could still be safer. john yang , nbc news, chicago.