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News from the Institutes: 2001


Ford belt reminder system gets more drivers to buckle up

A unique safety belt reminder system installed in late model Ford passenger vehicles has increased driver belt use from 71 to 76 percent, a new study has found. While the federal government requires belt reminders to activate for only eight seconds when cars are started, Ford's system flashes and chimes intermittently over several minutes if a driver doesn't buckle up.

December 20, 2001

5 of 11 midsize SUVs earn good ratings in crash tests

Among 11 midsize SUVs with new or modified designs that were crash tested by IIHS this year, five are rated good: the Acura MDX, Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer, Toyota Highlander, Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 and Mitsubishi Montero Sport. The MDX and Explorer/Mountaineer also earn the Institute's top designation, "best pick."

December 11, 2001

Bumpers on 2 vehicles improve dramatically

The bumpers on the new Chevrolet TrailBlazer sport SUV and redesigned Dodge Ram 1500 pickup have improved in low-speed crash tests compared with predecessor models of the same vehicles. The Ford Explorer SUV didn't improve, and the Jeep Liberty sustained more damage than three other vehicles in a recent series of tests.

November 29, 2001

Head restraints improve: Most are good or acceptable

The latest ratings of head restraints in more than 200 passenger vehicles indicate these devices are getting better. Twenty-nine percent of the vehicles, all 2001 models, have head restraints rated good, and another 24 percent have acceptable head restraints. This is the first time that more than half of all new passenger vehicles offer restraints rated good or acceptable.

October 4, 2001

Acura MDX has best bumpers of 7 SUVs tested

Automakers are marketing new midsize SUV models for 2001 and 2002, but most of these vehicles aren't being equipped with bumpers that resist damage in the kinds of impacts that routinely occur in commuter traffic and parking lots. Based on performance in a recent series of 5 mph crash tests involving seven new midsize SUVs, all but the Acura MDX have marginal or poor bumpers.

July 31, 2001

Dodge Grand Caravan, Hyundai Elantra earn poor ratings

A recent series of frontal offset crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety included multiple tests of the 2001 Hyundai Elantra and 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan. The manufacturers requested additional tests because they believed the Institute's first tests didn't reflect the same performance as in tests conducted by the companies. In each case, however, the second test revealed new problems.

July 17, 2001

Crash test ratings for pickups range from good to poor

Among four 2001 large pickup trucks, the best performer in a 40 mph frontal offset crash test was the Toyota Tundra, which is rated good. By far the worst performer was the Ford F-150, which is rated poor. The Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra is rated marginal, and the Dodge Ram is poor.

June 4, 2001

2 Acura models have highest insurance losses for theft

The Acura Integra, both two- and four-door models, heads the list of 1998-2000 passenger vehicles with the highest insurance losses for theft. Overall losses for these models are more than 10 times higher than the average for all passenger cars. Next is the Chevrolet Corvette convertible followed by the four-wheel-drive Cadillac Escalade, a sport SUV.

May 23, 2001

Study finds red light cameras cut crashes

Significant citywide crash reductions followed the introduction of red light cameras in Oxnard, Calif. This is the key finding of the first U.S. research on the effects of camera enforcement on intersection crashes.

April 26, 2001

Hyundai Santa Fe is tops in crash test

One of three new small sport utility vehicle designs recently tested earns a good overall rating based on performance in a 40 mph frontal offset crash test. The Hyundai Santa Fe earns this distinction, going to the top of the list of 10 current small SUV designs IIHS has evaluated. The redesigned Toyota RAV4 is acceptable, and the Ford Escape is marginal.

April 23, 2001

Tests show big pickups, small SUVs have flimsy bumpers

Many cars have bumpers that prevent some of the damage that otherwise can lead to expensive repairs after low-speed collisions, the kind that occur in commuter traffic and parking lots. But this isn't the case for most SUVs and pickup trucks. In a recent series of low-speed crash tests involving four large pickups and three small SUVs, all but one of the seven vehicles allowed excessive damage.

April 9, 2001

New car designs perform better in crash tests

New car designs are performing much better than their predecessors in 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. A new round of tests involving seven car designs shows this improvement. The most dramatic change was for the Dodge Stratus, which went from poor to good.

March 20, 2001

Latest bumper crash tests show some improvement

Seven new cars turned in varying performances in 5 mph crash tests to assess how well their bumpers prevent costly damage in parking lot-type impacts. Six of the cars are updates of models that were previously tested, and two of them improved.

January 30, 2001

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