Due to the excellent mechanical properties combined with high strength to weight ratio, honeycomb sandwich panels (HSP) are used increasingly in aerospace, automobile and marine industries. In order to improve the crashworthiness of vehicle body, it is of great significance to study the energy absorption characteristics of the components. For this reason, specific energy absorption (SEA: the energy absorption per unit mass) of HSP was selected to be the objective function in order to find an optimal design of HSP under impact loading. The explicit finite element analysis (FEA) was used to derive response surface (RS) model of SEA, and a single-objective optimization was performed to get the optimal design. Before the optimization design of HSP, the energy-absorptions of HSP and the honeycomb core (HC) were compared with each other. It was found that HSP could absorb much more impact energy than HC due to the stabilizing effect of the face sheets during the process of crushing.