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Drew Dowdell

Consumer Reports throws stones; Questions IIHS test

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Truck Rated Safe, With Asterisk

Synopsis

Link to NY Time article

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WHEN the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced the latest list of what it considers the safest vehicles last week, there was a surprising newcomer: a pickup truck. The newcomer is the Toyota Tundra, which beat its domestic competitors from Ford, Nissan and Dodge. The Chevrolet Silverado and a close relative, the GMC Sierra, were not among the vehicles tested. Starting last year, the institute added a crash-prevention feature, electronic stability control, to its criteria. The Tundra got the top pick designation even though its stability control system doesn’t work when four-wheel-drive is engaged. That has drawn criticism from Consumer Reports.

“It’s troubling to me that the one time you would really need E.S.C. — in the snow — that there is no E.S.C. available,” said David Champion, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports.

Mr. Champion noted that pickups like the Silverado and Dodge Ram had stability control systems that continued to work in four-wheel drive.

Toyota said its stability control would not work in four-wheel drive because the company chose a particularly rugged design that does not incorporate a center differential. In most four-wheel-drive vehicles, the differentials deliver power to all the wheels. Toyota said that a heavy-duty truck like the Tundra wouldn’t benefit from having a center differential because that’s just one more weak part that can break. You mean, like all the other parts on the Tundra that seem to break. And when did the Tundra become HD anyway? - Oldsmoboi

The insurance institute was unaware that Toyota’s system did not work when four-wheel drive was engaged, a spokesman, Russ Rader, said. But “the Tundra has electronic stability control and it gets the award.” That didn't come up in tests? - Oldsmoboi

When you've ceded the test quality highground to Consumer Reports, it's really time to reevaluate how you do things.

Edited by Oldsmoboi
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The insurance institute was unaware that Toyota’s system did not work when four-wheel drive was engaged, a spokesman, Russ Rader, said. But “the Tundra has electronic stability control and it gets the award.” That didn't come up in tests? - Oldsmoboi

When you've ceded the test quality highground to Consumer Reports, it's really time to reevaluate how you do things.

The IIHS performs crashes and seat simulations. They don't test vehicle dynamics.

If a vehicle gets...

"Good" frontal offset, 40 mph

"Good" side, 31 mph, 3300 lb, SUV-height barrier, small dummy

"Good" rear, dynamic seat test for whiplash

... and is available with ESC, it becomes a Top Safety Pick.

Here are the results for '08:

11 NEW WINNERS FOR 2008

Midsize cars

Audi A3

Honda Accord

Small car

Subaru Impreza equipped with optional electronic stability control

Minivan

Honda Odyssey

Midsize SUVs

BMW X3

BMW X5

Hyundai Veracruz built after August 2007

Saturn VUE built after December 2007

Toyota Highlander

Small SUV

Honda Element

Large pickup

Toyota Tundra

ALL 34 WINNERS

Large cars

Audi A6

Ford Taurus with optional electronic stability control

Mercury Sable with optional electronic stability control

Volvo S80

Midsize cars

Audi A3, A4

Honda Accord

Saab 9-3

Subaru Legacy with optional electronic stability control

Midsize convertibles

Saab 9-3

Volvo C70

Small car

Subaru Impreza with optional electronic stability control

Minivans

Honda Odyssey

Hyundai Entourage

Kia Sedona

Midsize SUVs

Acura MDX, RDX

BMW X3, X5

Ford Edge, Taurus X

Honda Pilot

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Veracruz built after August 2007

Lincoln MKX

Mercedes M class

Saturn VUE built after December 2007

Subaru Tribeca

Toyota Highlander

Volvo XC90

Small SUVs

Honda CR-V, Element

Subaru Forester with optional electronic stability control

Large pickup

Toyota Tundra

ALSO RANS

Twenty-three vehicles earn good ratings in front and side crash tests. They have ESC, standard or optional. They would be 2008 Top Safety Pick winners if their seat/head restraints also earned good ratings:

* Acura RL, TL

* BMW 3 series

* Chrysler Sebring convertible

* Infiniti M35/M45

* Kia Amanti

* Lexus IS 250/350, ES 350, GS 350/460

* Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra both with optional side airbags

* Nissan Quest

* Toyota Avalon, Camry, FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, Prius, RAV4, and Sienna

* Volkswagen Eos, Jetta, Passat, Rabbit

Edited by empowah
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So... they test the vehicle in a crash... but they don't test to see if the ESC even works?

I can buy a 1998 Eldorado with the ESC label on the back, wonder if that'd qualify.

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Baffling how the Tundra can get 4-star crash ratings, the lowest of the group, yet suddenly it has a top pick? Yet the ESC doesn't work when 4WD is engaged? How could they not know, they are supposed to be testing the safety of the vehicles we drive, it's kind of important to know what they can and can't do.

I'm going to put a sticker on the Shadow that says it can fly to avoid being hit...so it gets a top safety pick right? No one seems to test whether it actually works or not.

It's amazing that CR f all people are calling BS out on the Tundra of all things.

Edited by Dodgefan
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So... they test the vehicle in a crash... but they don't test to see if the ESC even works?

I can buy a 1998 Eldorado with the ESC label on the back, wonder if that'd qualify.

Yes, it will, because the 1998 Eldorado ETC came with Stabilitrak, which is GM-speak for ESC.

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I'm going to put a sticker on the Shadow that says it can fly to avoid being hit...so it gets a top safety pick right? No one seems to test whether it actually works or not.

No, it won't, because the Shadow does not come with ESC.

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In the same way IIHS puts in small print "with optional electronic stability control" for the Taurus, Sable, Legacy, Impreza, and Forester, the IIHS should put in small print "with 2WD models only, or 4WD models in 2WD" for the Tundra.

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Yes, it will, because the 1998 Eldorado ETC came with Stabilitrak, which is GM-speak for ESC.

Ah-HA! Got ya! I was referring to the Eldorado ESC.

but really, this is less about the Tundra and more a comment about CR and it's crappy testing trying to call out the IIHS and it's crappy testing.

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