September 17, 2003

SUVs do poorly in rollover resistance ratings

Washington, D.C. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released rollover resistance ratings for eleven sport utility vehicles on Monday. Out of a possible five stars, only two SUVs received four stars: the Honda Pilot and Nissan Murano. Seven SUVs received three stars: BMW X5, Honda Element 4X2 and 4X4, Jeep Liberty 4X4, Kia Sorento 4X2 and 4X4, Mercedes-Benz ML350, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester, and Toyota 4Runner 4X2 and 4X4.

Two SUVs received only two stars out of a possible five stars: the Ford Explorer Sport Trac 4X2 and 4X4, and the Jeep Liberty 4X2.

According to the NHTSA’s definition of rollover resistance, a vehicle with a five star rating has a risk of rollover of less than 10 percent. A four star vehicle has a risk of rollover between 10 percent and 20 percent. A three star vehicle’s risk is between 20 percent and 30 percent. A two-star vehicle’s risk of rollover is between 30 percent and 40 percent. And a one-star rating is a risk greater than 40 percent.

The NHTSA’s Rollover Resistance Rating is not rated on actual rollover tests. It is a calculated estimate of the risk of rolling over in a single vehicle crash. The Rollover Resistance Rating essentially measures vehicle characteristics of centre of gravity and track width to determine how “top-heavy” a vehicle is. The more “top-heavy” the vehicle, the more likely it is to roll over. The lowest rated vehicles (1-star) are at least four times more likely to roll over than the highest rated vehicles (5-stars).

The Rollover Resistance Ratings of vehicles were compared to 220,000 actual single vehicle crashes, and the ratings were found to relate very closely to the real-world rollover experience of vehicles, says the NHTSA.

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