May 28, 2002

Nine mid-size sedans receive ‘Good’ rating in offset crash tests

Arlington, Virginia – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released crash test results today for nine mid-size sedans: the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Acura TL, Hyundai XG350, Lexus ES300, Lexus IS300, Saab 9-5, Volvo S60, and Jaguar X-Type. The crash tests involved a 40 mph (64 km/h) frontal offset crash test into a deformable barrier. Based on the results, the Institute assigned each vehicle a rating of good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. All nine sedans received the Institute’s “Good” rating, while the two Lexus models, the Acura TL, Toyota Camry, and Saab 9-5 also earned the “Best Pick” designation.

“This set of results demonstrates the effectiveness of consumer safety information in improving crashworthiness,” said Institute president Brian O’Neill. “We started this program with 1995 model year midsize cars. We tested 14 cars, and at that time only 3 were rated good. Now it’s becoming unusual for us to test a new vehicle design in any size class and not get a good performance.”

O’Neill added that “the nine cars we tested this time around vary widely in price, but our tests demonstrate that even inexpensive models like the Camry can turn in good performances.” The Institute has tested 29 current midsize car designs in 3 price ranges, and 17 of the 29 are rated good overall. Only 3 are poor.

Eight of the nine 2002 models the Institute tested (all except the Hyundai XG300/XG350) earned good ratings for structural performance in the offset test. The occupant compartments of these cars held up well, preserving the space around the driver dummy. The Hyundai’s structural rating is acceptable.

O’Neill said that a vehicle’s structural design is key to its crashworthiness performance because the Institute’s frontal offset crash test into a deformable barrier is especially demanding of this aspect of vehicle design. The driver side hits the barrier, so a relatively small area of the vehicle’s front-end structure must manage the crash energy. This means intrusion into the occupant compartment is much more likely to occur than in a full-width test.

“If a vehicle’s front-end structure absorbs and manages the crash energy so the occupant compartment remains largely intact, with little or no intrusion into the driver’s space, then the dummy’s movement during the crash is likely to be well controlled, and injury measures are likely to be low. In contrast, poor structural design means greater likelihood of poor control of the dummy and high injury measures,” O’Neill noted.

Each vehicle’s overall evaluation is based on three aspects of performance – measurements of occupant compartment intrusion, injury measures from a Hybrid III dummy positioned in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraints controlled dummy movement during the impact.

For detailed information on the results for each vehicle, visit the IIHS web-site at To see a full-motion video of the crash tests, visit Progressive Insurance Co.’s web-site,

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