October 4, 2004

Crash test results announced for eight mid-size luxury cars

Arlington, Virginia – Four of eight midsize cars earned good ratings in side impact crash tests recently conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. None of the cars received a poor rating. The 2004 Saab 9-3, 2004 Acura TL, 2004 Lexus ES 330, and 2005 Mitsubishi Galant were rated good for side impact protection. The 2004 Saab 9-5, 2005 Mercedes C class, and 2005 Volvo S40 earned acceptable ratings. The 2004 Jaguar X-Type was rated marginal.

The better performers among vehicles that earn good ratings are designated “best picks.” The Saab 9-3, which also earned a “best pick” designation in the Institute’s frontal offset crash test, is the first car to earn this designation in both front and side crash tests. It’s a “double best pick.”

“Earning a ‘double best pick’ is a rare achievement,” says Institute chief operating officer Adrian Lund. “The only other vehicle to have done this is the Toyota RAV4, a small SUV, and then only when it was equipped with optional side airbags.”

In the Institute’s side impact test, a moving deformable barrier strikes the driver side of a passenger vehicle at 31 mph. The barrier weighs 3,300 pounds and has a front end shaped to simulate the front end of a typical pickup or SUV. In each side-struck vehicle are two instrumented dummies the size of a short (5th percentile) female, one positioned in the driver seat and one in the rear seat behind the driver.

“The Institute’s test is more challenging than the NHTSA’s test because the top of the barrier is at the same level as the heads of the test dummies in the car,” Lund says. “This is the scenario in real-world side impact crashes where occupants’ heads are often struck by the intruding hood of an SUV or pickup.”

The federal government’s side impact test uses a barrier representing a car’s front end. In this test, there’s no chance that the heads of the dummies in a struck vehicle will be hit by the intruding barrier.

For details on the crash test performance of each individual vehicle, visit www.hwysafety.org.

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