March 22, 2005

Compact SUVs fare poorly in side impact tests

Arlington, Virginia – According to tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), compact SUVs without side impact airbags don’t fare any better than small cars for side impacts.

The IIHS’ test simulates being hit broadside by an SUV travelling at 50 km/hr. Each vehicle is struck by a 1,500 kg moveable, deformable barrier that is shaped like the front end of a typical SUV or pickup truck. All SUVs tested without side impact airbags received a “poor” rating except for Jeep TJ, which received a “marginal” rating.

In a recent IIHS study of small cars, 14 out of 16 tested for side impact crash results received a “poor” rating. The two cars receiving an “acceptable” rating were the Chevrolet Cobalt and Toyota Corolla with side air bags.

However, Cobalt and Corolla were among nine small cars tested which were equipped with side impact air bags. Unlike the compact SUVs, side impact airbags are not the deciding factor in receiving a rating other than “poor” among small cars.

The IIHS has not tested any large SUVs or minivans for side impact crashes.

For compact SUVs equipped with side airbags, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute received “good” ratings, while the similarly-equipped Hyundai Santa Fe rated “acceptable”.

Compact SUVs without side air bags receiving a “poor” rating were Toyota RAV4, Honda Element, Saturn Vue, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Land Rover Freelander, and Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute. Jeep TJ without side impact air bags rated “marginal”.

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