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News from the Institutes: 2006


In crash tests of minicars, Nissan Versa performs best

For the first time, the IIHS has tested the smallest vehicles sold in the U.S. market, which gain popularity as fuel prices rise. The Nissan Versa earns good ratings in front, side and rear tests. Two other cars earn good ratings in front and side but not rear tests.

December 19, 2006

Award criteria get tougher for 2007 Top Safety Pick

Thirteen vehicles earn Top Safety Pick awards for 2007. Winners include 4 cars, 7 SUVs, and 2 minivans. This award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side and rear crashes based on ratings in IIHS tests. Winners also have to be equipped with electronic stability control.

November 21, 2006

Side airbags cut fatality risk in cars and SUVs

Side airbags that protect people's heads are reducing driver deaths in cars struck on the driver side by an estimated 37 percent. Airbags that protect only the chest and abdomen but not the head are reducing deaths by 26 percent. 

October 5, 2006

New side airbags on 2 Fords improve crash test results

IIHS recently tested four 2007 model vehicles with side airbags. The Toyota FJ Cruiser and Ford Freestyle earn good ratings for protection in side crashes. The Ford Fusion is rated acceptable, and the Ford Crown Victoria is marginal.

September 14, 2006

Teens' crash rates go down under graduated licensing

An evaluation of graduated licensing in California finds a 23 percent overall reduction in the per capita crash involvement rate of 16-year-old drivers in the state. Crashes went down more in the high-risk situations specifically addressed by graduated licensing.

August 31, 2006

Safer vehicles cause deaths to fall

The designs of passenger vehicles have been improving for years, becoming more protective of their occupants in crashes. Without these improvements, the motor vehicle death rate per registered vehicle would have stopped declining in 1994 and started going up.

August 10, 2006

Toyota Camry and RAV4 earn top front and side ratings

New crash test results reflect the improvements manufacturers continue to make in protecting people in front and side crashes, but protection in rear crashes lags.

August 6, 2006

Impala, Avalon are top large cars in side crash test

The redesigned Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon, both equipped with standard side airbags, earn top ratings of good in side crash tests that simulate an impact from an SUV or pickup truck. The Buick Lucerne and Hyundai Azera, also equipped with standard side airbags, earn the second-highest rating of acceptable.

June 18, 2006

Stability control could prevent a third of fatal crashes

An extension of antilock brake technology, electronic stability control is designed to help drivers retain control of their vehicles during high-speed maneuvers or on slippery roads. Previous research found it significantly reduces the risk of fatal single-vehicle crashes. Now researchers have found that the technology reduces the risk of fatal multiple-vehicle crashes by 32 percent.

June 13, 2006

Cadillac Escalade tops stolen vehicle list

Versions of the 2003-05 Cadillac Escalade, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and Dodge Ram 1500 quad cab pickup have the highest rates of insurance theft claims. The three vehicles have claim rates 4 to 5 times the average for all vehicles. These are the latest theft loss results published by HLDI.

June 7, 2006

Kia Sedona is 1st minivan to earn Top Safety Pick

The Kia Sedona and Subaru Impreza are the best performers in a group of minivans and small cars recently evaluated by IIHS. The Sedona is the first minivan to earn the Top Safety Pick award, and the Impreza is only the second small car design to earn this award.

April 16, 2006

IIHS makes changes to frontal crash test program

Frontal offset crash tests conducted by IIHS since 1995 have prompted huge improvements in how vehicles protect people in frontal crashes. Now this consumer information program is undergoing a major change that will allow the Institute to focus on other types of crashes.

March 30, 2006

Latest crash tests yield 2 new Top Safety Pick winners

The BMW 3 series and Lexus IS both earn the silver Top Safety Pick award, while the performance of the Ford Fusion disappoints. The three cars were among seven new or redesigned midsize car models evaluated in front, side and rear impact tests. The models include three moderately priced cars and four luxury/near luxury cars.

March 5, 2006

Lexus GS earns top rating in demanding side test

The Lexus GS, equipped with standard side curtain airbags, earned the Institute's top rating of good in a crash test that simulates a side impact from an SUV or pickup truck. Earlier, this car earned a good rating in the frontal test but was rated marginal for its seat/head restraint design for protection in rear impacts.

January 31, 2006

Most SUVs and pickups have poor rear crash protection

Only six of the seat/head restraint combinations in 44 current model SUVs are rated good for protection against whiplash injuries in rear-end crashes. None of the seat/head restraint designs in 15 pickup truck models earns a good rating. This is the first time IIHS has tested SUV and pickup seats using a dummy that can measure forces on the neck during a simulated rear-end crash.

January 8, 2006

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