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Escape up, Wrangler down in crash tests

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Harry Stoffer

Automotive News

August 20, 2008 - 12:15 am ET

WASHINGTON -- Crash tests of eight small crossovers and SUVs produced clear winners and losers, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group for auto insurers.

The institute gave its "top safety pick" label to four vehicles that got "good" scores in all test categories: front impact, side impact and rear crash protection. They are the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape.

The results also apply to the Escape's siblings, the Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute, and the hybrid versions of all three models, the institute said.

The institute assigns test scores of good, acceptable, marginal and poor. Getting lower, mixed scores were the Suzuki Grand Vitara, the Jeep Patriot and Wrangler, and the Chevrolet Equinox -- plus the Chevy's twin, the Pontiac Torrent.

The tested Tiguan and Escape were 2009 models. Other rated vehicles were 2008 models.

In a statement, institute President Adrian Lund singled out the Escape for significant improvements.

But he rebuked the Wrangler. "We've rarely seen a vehicle go in the wrong direction and get a worse rating after it has been redesigned," Lund said.

The Wrangler was tested without optional side airbags. It got the only "poor" rating in the latest round of tests, for the side-impact crash.

Otherwise, Lund applauded the industry for big safety gains, especially by adding side airbags and electronic stability control to vehicles.

The institute's frontal crash is at 40 mph into the corner of a barrier. For the side crash, the institute drives the nose of a trucklike object into the test vehicle at 31 mph. Seats and head restraints are evaluated for the rear-crash score.

The institute's latest results were made public today. Full details are at http://www.iihs.org .

Link: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti...p;rssfeed=RSS33

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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Wow, there's quite a difference...



The Escape has slowly but surely improved over the years. When it first came out in 2001, it was rated "marginal" in the front crash; in 2005, it improved to "acceptable"; and now for 2009, it's finally a "good."

The new Chrysler cars - Patriot, Caliber, Avenger, Sebring - all have good "bones" (all have good structural ratings), and they're only let down by inadequate supplemental restraints. This seems to reflect the rest of their vehicles well - all of them have strong fundamentals but lack that attention to detail.

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