April 26, 2005

New Jetta earns top rating in crash tests

Arlington, Virginia – The 2005 Volkswagen Jetta, which was redesigned for the 2005 model year, earned good ratings in both frontal offset and side impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Jetta is the first vehicle to earn the top rating of good in every individual measurement category (injury measures, head protection, and structural design) of the Institute’s side impact test and is designated a “best pick” for side crash protection.

“The Jetta was the first vehicle to ace our side impact test,” said Institute president Brian O’Neill. “It’s the best performer among midsize inexpensive cars. Its structural performance was better than the second- and third-best models, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. This new Jetta design shows what manufacturers can do to improve occupant protection in serious side impacts when cars are hit by taller and heavier SUVs and pickup trucks.”

In the frontal test, vehicles strike a deformable barrier at 40 mph. The vehicle being tested is offset, so only 40 percent of its front end strikes the barrier on the driver side. The Jetta’s structure held up well in this crash test, and most injury measures to crash dummies were low. However, forces recorded on the driver dummy’s right leg indicate that a person in a crash of the same severity could suffer a fractured tibia.

“The Jetta is a good performer but not a ‘best pick’ in the frontal test,” O’Neill says.

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 small (5th percentile) woman, one positioned in the driver seat and one in the rear seat behind the driver.

The Jetta is one of an increasing number of inexpensive cars with standard front and rear curtain-style side airbags designed to protect occupants’ heads. Seat-mounted side airbags designed to protect the chest and abdomen also are standard in the front and optional in the rear (the Jetta that was tested didn’t have the optional rear airbags). In the Institute’s test, the heads of the dummies in the front and rear seats were protected from hitting any hard structures, including the test barrier.

Summary data for relatively inexpensive mid-sized sedans tested by the IIHS is available at the Institute’s web site.

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