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News from the Institutes: 2003

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December 19, 2003

Ford F-150 and Freestar are 'best picks' in frontal test

The redesigned Ford F-150 pickup truck and Ford Freestar minivan each earned the highest overall rating in a recent series of 40 mph frontal crash tests. Both vehicles improved compared with their predecessors. The previous F-150 model was rated poor, while Ford's previous minivan was acceptable.

December 11, 2003

Bumpers get worse on Ford's redesigned pickup, minvan

The Ford F-150 pickup and Freestar minivan, both new for 2004, didn't perform well in recent low-speed crash tests. The F-150 earned a rating of poor, and the Freestar is rated marginal.

November 30, 2003

8 of 9 midsize SUVs earn top frontal crash test rating

Eight new or redesigned midsize SUVs have earned ratings of good in recent frontal crash tests. They include three luxury models — the Lexus RX 330, Infiniti FX and Cadillac SRX — as well as the Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Murano, Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Pilot and Mitsubishi Endeavor. The Kia Sorento is rated acceptable.

November 28, 2003

8 new SUVs sustain big damage in bumper tests

SUVs are advertised as rugged, but few have bumpers designed to withstand a minor bump in a low-speed collision. Eight of nine new midsize SUVs earned poor or marginal ratings for bumper performance in recent 5 mph crash tests. Only the 2003 Honda Pilot is equipped with bumpers that resisted major damage.

September 25, 2003

Head restraints get better at preventing whiplash

The designs of head restraints in an increasing number of passenger vehicles are improving so that many occupants are better protected from whiplash injury in rear-end crashes. In 1995, 82 percent of new passenger vehicles had head restraints rated poor by IIHS. In the 2003 model year 45 percent of passenger vehicles had head restraints rated good, and only 10 percent had poor ones.

September 21, 2003

7 of 7 new vehicles earn good frontal ratings

In a recent series of frontal offset crash tests, all seven new or redesigned vehicles earned the top rating of good. They include the Mazda 6, Infiniti G35, Saab 9-3, Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, Lincoln Town Car and Mercedes E class.

September 7, 2003

Mazda 6 has acceptable bumpers, 5 vehicles disappoint

Bumpers on the midsize 2003 Mazda 6 performed reasonably well in 5 mph crash tests, but results for five other vehicles were disappointing. The midsize 2003 Infiniti G35, the 2004 Nissan Quest minivan and the large luxury 2003 Mercedes E class earned poor ratings for bumper performance. The midsize 2003 Saab 9-3 and the 2004 Toyota Sienna minivan were marginal. None earned a good rating.

August 26, 2003

Side airbags save lives in real-world crashes

Side airbags that include head protection are reducing deaths by about 45 percent among drivers of passenger cars struck on the driver side. Side airbags that protect the chest and abdomen, but not the head, also are reducing deaths, but they're less effective. These are the major findings of an IIHS study of the real-world effectiveness of side airbags.

August 21, 2003

Cadillac Escalade SUV is top theft target

The Cadillac Escalade SUV has the most frequent theft claims among 2000-02 model passenger vehicles. Its theft claim frequency is about 4 times the average for all vehicles.

June 17, 2003

IIHS releases 1st side crash test ratings

For the first time, IIHS has evaluated vehicles in side impact crash tests to provide consumer information. The best performers among the 12 small SUVs tested are the Subaru Forester and the Ford Escape with optional side airbags. In contrast, seven other small SUVs earned the lowest rating of poor. Two others are marginal, and one is acceptable.

June 11, 2003

Despite LATCH, not every child seat fits in every vehicle

A federal rule requiring special attachments to anchor infant and child restraints in vehicles is making installation easier, but not all child restraints fit easily in all vehicles. This is the main finding of the Institute's first review of the federal requirements.

April 16, 2003

5 of 6 vehicles earn good ratings in latest crash tests

A recent series of frontal offset crash tests included three SUVs — the Volvo XC90, Honda Element and Mitsubishi Outlander — plus three large luxury cars — the 2002 Acura RL, 2003 Cadillac CTS and 2003 Infiniti Q45. All three SUVs earned good overall ratings and "best pick" designations, as did the CTS and Q45. The RL is rated acceptable.

March 18, 2003

Of 7 vehicles, only new Honda SUV has decent bumpers

The 2003 Honda Element, a small sport utility vehicle that's new for the 2003 model year, performed reasonably well in 5 mph crash tests. However, the performances of six other vehicles recently tested were poor.

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