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News from the Institutes: 2004


Only 2 of 5 small cars earn good front ratings

The Mazda 3 is the best performer and the Kia Spectra is the worst in a recent series of frontal offset crash tests. The Hyundai Elantra also earned a good overall rating, but only after three tests revealed two design problems that led to recalls. The Suzuki Forenza and Saturn ION are rated acceptable, and the Kia Spectra earned the lowest rating of poor.

December 19, 2004

Two more small SUVs earn good side ratings with airbags

The 2005 Honda CR-V equipped with standard side airbags designed to protect occupants' heads and torsos earned the top rating of good in recent side impact crash tests. The 2005 Ford Escape also earned a good rating, but only when it's equipped with optional side airbags. Without the side airbags, the Escape is rated poor for side impact protection.

December 10, 2004

Many deaths in vehicle-animal collisions are avoidable

Most of the motor vehicle crash deaths in collisions with animals occur in subsequent events when a vehicle runs off the road or a motorcyclist falls off the bike. Many of these deaths wouldn't occur with appropriate protection, such as safety belts and motorcycle helmets.

November 18, 2004

Most seats and head restraints get poor ratings

Using a new dynamic test and a dummy designed especially for rear impact testing, IIHS has rated 73 seat/head restraint combinations available in 63 car models sold in the U.S. market. Only eight are rated good for whiplash prevention, while 54 are poor.

November 14, 2004

Electronic stability control reduces fatal crash risk

About half of the 28,000 fatal passenger vehicle crashes that occur each year involve a single vehicle. Equipping cars and SUVs with electronic stability control can reduce the risk of involvement in these crashes by more than 50 percent, a new study finds. The effect on all single-vehicle crashes, fatal and nonfatal, is about 40 percent.

October 28, 2004

Cadillac Escalade and Nissan Maxima are top theft targets

The 2002-03 model Cadillac Escalade EXT, a luxury pickup, and the 2002-03 model Nissan Maxima, a midsize sedan, have the highest theft claim rates among newer passenger vehicles. The Escalade and Maxima have theft claim rates 7 to 8 times the average for all cars. These are the latest insurance theft loss results for passenger vehicles 1 to 3 years old published by HLDI.

October 19, 2004

4 midsize cars earn good side ratings

Four of eight midsize cars have earned good ratings in recent side impact crash tests. None of the cars received a poor rating. The 2004 Saab 9-3, 2004 Acura TL, 2004 Lexus ES 330, and 2005 Mitsubishi Galant are rated good for side impact protection. The Saab 9-3 is the first car to earn "best pick" in both front and side crash tests.

October 3, 2004

When bumpers don't line up, repair costs are higher

Low-speed front-into-rear crashes occur frequently in urban traffic, and the vehicles often sustain expensive damage. Bumpers can reduce this damage, but only if they line up so the initial contact in an impact is bumper to bumper. The Institute's latest tests show that bumpers on many cars and SUVs don't line up.

September 13, 2004

Toyota RAV4 is 1st vehicle to earn 'double best pick'

The 2004 Toyota RAV4 equipped with optional side airbags is the first vehicle to earn good ratings and "best pick" designations for both front and side impact crash tests conducted by IIHS — a "double best pick." The designation applies only to RAV4s with optional side airbags. Without them, the SUV earns a poor rating for side protection.

July 25, 2004

July 4 is deadliest day of the year on the road

The upcoming Independence Day holiday is when the most motor vehicle deaths occur, based on experience during 1986-2002. Each year on this holiday, an average of 161 people die in crashes. This is about 40 percent more crash deaths than occur on an average day. The second worst day for crash deaths during 1986-2002 was July 3.

July 1, 2004

Three new vehicles earn good ratings in front crash test

Three new vehicles performed well in a recent series of frontal offset crash tests. Two cars, the Volvo S40 and BMW 5 series, earned overall ratings of good. A new large pickup design, the Nissan Titan, also earned a good rating. All three of these vehicles earned the designation of "best pick" for frontal crash protection. The Ford Escape small SUV improved from a marginal rating to acceptable.

June 13, 2004

Camry, Accord earn good side ratings; 10 cars are poor

The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord equipped with optional side airbags are the only inexpensive midsize cars to earn good ratings in side impact crash tests conducted by IIHS. The Chevrolet Malibu with optional side airbags is rated acceptable. Ten other midsize car designs earned the lowest rating of poor. The test simulates what happens when a pickup or SUV strikes a passenger vehicle in the side at 31 mph.

April 18, 2004

5 midsize cars earn good ratings in frontal test

Five of six new or redesigned midsize cars have earned good ratings in 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. The Acura TL, Acura TSX and Nissan Maxima also earned "best pick" designations in the frontal test. The only car tested that didn't earn a good rating was the Suzuki Verona, which is rated acceptable.

March 21, 2004

5 of 6 midsize cars earn low ratings in bumper tests

Five of six new midsize cars have earned poor or marginal ratings in low-speed crash tests conducted by IIHS to evaluate bumpers. Only one model, the Mitsubishi Galant, earned the second-highest rating of acceptable. The Suzuki Verona, Nissan Maxima, and Acura TL are rated marginal. The Chevrolet Malibu and Acura TSX earned the lowest rating of poor.

February 29, 2004

Crash tests are good predictors of real-world outcomes

Drivers of vehicles that earn good ratings in the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset crash test are much less likely to die in serious frontal crashes out on the highways, compared with drivers of vehicles rated poor.

February 5, 2004

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