June 20, 2006

Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon earn top ratings in side crash tests

Arlington, Virginia – The redesigned Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon, both equipped with standard side airbags, have earned the top “good” rating in side crash tests conducted on eight large family cars by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Buick Lucerne and Hyundai Azera, also equipped with standard side airbags, earned the second-highest rating of “acceptable”.

The Buick LaCrosse (sold in Canada as the Allure) with standard side airbags rated “marginal”, as did the Chrysler 300 equipped with optional side airbags. The Chrysler 300, Ford Five Hundred and Ford Crown Victoria (sold in Canada as the Ford Grand Marquis), all tested without their optional side airbags, rated “poor”, although the Ford Five Hundred with optional side airbags earned a “good” rating in tests conducted last year. According to Ford, the Five Hundred will be equipped with standard side airbags beginning with cars built in September 2006. Side airbags are not mandated by the U.S. federal government as frontal airbags are, but the IIHS says that manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to make them standard in all vehicles by the 2009 model year.

The IIHS reports that side impacts are the second most common fatal crash type, after frontal crashes; about 9,700 people were killed in the U.S. in side impacts in 2004. The top-rated Impala and Avalon also come equipped with standard curtain airbags to protect the heads of occupants in both the front and rear seats.

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