Sign in to follow this  
pow

IIHS Tests Fusion, Sonata, G6, TSX, 3, G35, IS

20 posts in this topic

pow    106

News Release • March 5, 2006

New crash tests of midsize cars: BMW 3 series & Lexus IS earn 'Top Safety Pick,' but new Ford Fusion disappoints

ARLINGTON, VA — Crashworthiness evaluations for seven new or redesigned midsize car models reflect performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's front, side, and rear impact tests. The models include three moderately priced cars — Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Pontiac G6. The other four models are luxury/near luxury cars — Acura TSX, BMW 3 series, Infiniti G35, and Lexus IS.

The best overall performers are the BMW 3 series and Lexus IS, which earned the silver 'Top Safety Pick' designation for good performance in the Institute's front and side crash tests plus acceptable ratings for their seat/head restraint designs in rear tests. The Ford Fusion, tested without its optional side airbags, earned the lowest overall ratings. It's the only car in this group that didn't earn a good rating in the frontal test. It earned a poor rating in the side test and a marginal rating for rear crash protection.

"Nearly every car now earns good ratings in our frontal test," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "The Fusion is acceptable, which isn't a bad result, but it's not competitive with other cars in its class. Based on this car's side and rear evaluations along with its acceptable frontal rating, the Fusion is the lowest rated moderately priced midsize car we've evaluated."

Sonata shows big improvement in front and side tests: The Hyundai Sonata and Pontiac G6 didn't earn the 'Top Safety Pick' award, but their crash test performances improved compared with predecessor models. The Institute has tested two predecessors of the 2006 Sonata. The design for the 1995-98 model years was rated poor in the frontal test. The occupant compartment buckled, and major intrusion into the driver footwell area led to high forces on the dummy's left leg. Another problem was that the dummy's head slid around the frontal airbag and nearly hit the A-pillar between the windshield and front door frame. The Sonata design for 1999-2005 improved to acceptable overall, but its structure was rated only marginal in the frontal test. Forces on the dummy's legs indicated the possibility of injury, and the safety cage around the driver didn't hold up very well.

Frontal test of 2006 Sonata leads to recall: The frontal evaluation of the redesigned 2006 Sonata is based on two crash tests. A problem in the first test involved the driver seat. During the crash, the seatback failed to maintain adjustment in the position in which it was locked before the impact. This resulted in the forward rotation of the seatback into the inflated airbag. The seatback then moved rearward and after the crash was found in a semi-reclined position. Post-crash inspection showed the lap portion of the driver's safety belt was partially caught beneath the seatback adjustment lever and had likely activated the lever during the crash.

Hyundai engineers redesigned this lever for all cars manufactured starting on August 1, 2005 and recalled the cars made earlier. All 2006 Sonatas with this change are rated good for frontal crash protection.

"In the past, cars from Hyundai often didn't perform as well as many competitors in our safety tests," Lund says. "Structure is the key to providing good protection in a frontal crash because if the occupant compartment buckles or crumples, the safety belts and airbags cannot do a good job of protecting the people inside. The structure of the new Sonata is a dramatic improvement."

The Sonata also improved in the side impact test. The previous model earned the lowest rating of poor, even with standard front seat-mounted side airbags designed to protect front-seat occupants' heads and chests. The side structure of the old model was poor, and measures recorded on the driver dummy indicated that a person in a real-world crash of this severity could sustain rib fractures, internal organ injuries, and a fractured pelvis.

The side airbags in the old Sonata provided head protection, but only for people in front seats. For 2006, Hyundai replaced the combination head/torso airbags that deployed from the side of the front seats with side curtain airbags designed to protect the heads of occupants in both front and rear seats (seat-mounted torso airbags also are standard for front-seat occupants).

The 2006 Sonata is one of the few relatively inexpensive cars with side airbags as standard equipment. It's also one of the few to earn a good rating for seat/head restraint design for protection in rear impacts.

BMW and Lexus earn 'Top Safety Pick': Based on these test results plus results released last year, nine moderately priced to luxury midsize models earn the 'Top Safety Pick' award for performance in front, side, and rear tests. Both the BMW and Lexus earn the silver award, but this award applies only to 3 series models manufactured after February, 2006, when BMW redesigned the head restraints to improve performance in the rear test.

"Results for the BMW and Lexus show that manufacturers can design cars to protect people in the three most common kinds of crashes that lead to injuries," Lund says.

'Top Safety Pick' winners represent an elite fraction of the car market. Winners of the gold award have good ratings in the Institute's frontal offset and side impact tests, and their seat/head restraints are rated good for protection from neck injuries in rear impacts. Silver awards go to vehicles with good performance in the front and side crash tests plus acceptable seat/head restraint ratings.

G6 improves compared with Grand Am: In contrast to the Pontiac G6's good performance in the frontal test, its predecessor Grand Am was rated poor. When the Institute tested a 1999 model, the driver's survival space wasn't maintained very well, the steering wheel moved up toward the driver, and a high head acceleration occurred when the dummy's head hit the pillar behind the driver seat. Intrusion also contributed to high forces on the dummy's right leg.

"The performance of the G6 is dramatically better," Lund says. The structure was maintained very well, there was minimal intrusion into the occupant compartment, and most injury measures were low.

This car is rated acceptable for side impact protection, but only when equipped with optional side curtain airbags designed to protect occupants' heads. All injury measures recorded on the driver dummy were low, but forces recorded on the rear passenger dummy indicated the possibility of rib fractures or internal organ injuries. Without side airbags, the G6 is rated poor in the side test. This car earns the second lowest rating of marginal for rear crash protection.

New Fusion isn't up to par with midsize competitors: The Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan is among only two current midsize car designs (the other is the Dodge Stratus/Chrysler Sebring) that don't earn the highest rating of good in the Institute's frontal offset crash test. The Fusion without optional side airbags is rated poor for side crash protection, and it earned a marginal rating for rear crash protection.

"The Fusion is a disappointment because it's a brand new design," Lund says. "Ford has done a good job with some other recent models, but the Fusion is at the back of the pack among midsize cars for overall safety performance." In Fusions manufactured after January, Ford added a structure below the accelerator pedal designed to reduce injury risk to the right leg and foot in frontal offset crashes.

"This fix didn't work in our test," Lund says. "Forces recorded on the dummy's right leg were high, and a metal pin broke in the dummy's ankle. Ford is doing more research to find a solution and has indicated it will ask the Institute to retest the Fusion for frontal crash performance later this year."

The Fusion earned the lowest rating of poor in the side impact test. Without side airbags, injury measures recorded on the driver dummy indicated that serious head injuries would be possible in a real-world crash of similar severity. Measures from other parts of the dummy indicated that rib fractures or internal organ injuries and a fractured pelvis also would be likely.

"The side structure of the Fusion held up reasonably well in the crash test, and this car's structural rating of acceptable is better than some other midsize models we've tested," Lund points out. Protection in the rear seat was reasonably good. The head of the dummy in the rear seat struck the pillar behind the rear door. This area is required by federal standard to provide some protection for an occupant's head, but the Fusion is rated poor overall because of high forces recorded on the driver dummy's head, pelvis, and torso.

The Fusion's side airbags aren't standard equipment, and the Institute's policy is to test vehicles without these airbags if they're optional. Manufacturers who want a second test with side airbags have to reimburse the Institute for the cost of the vehicle. Initially, Ford didn't request a second test of the Fusion with optional side airbags.

"Usually when an automaker doesn't ask for the optional test, we presume it means the side airbags wouldn't help much to improve the car's rating," explains Lund. "But now Ford has requested a second test, so the Fusion with side airbags may earn a better rating than poor. We'll conduct the test and report the result."

How vehicles are evaluated: The Institute's frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of frontal offset crash tests at 40 mph. Each vehicle's overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures from a Hybrid III dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Each vehicle's overall side evaluation is based on performance in a crash test in which the side of the vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph and representing the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented SID-IIs dummies, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle's structural performance during the impact. Injury measures obtained from the two dummies, one in the driver seat and the other in the rear seat behind the driver, are used to determine the likelihood that the driver and/or passenger in a real-world crash would have sustained serious injury to various body regions. The movements and contacts of the dummies' heads during the crash also are evaluated. Structural performance is based on measurements indicating the amount of B-pillar intrusion into the occupant compartment.

Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry — the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seats with good or acceptable restraint geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. Seats without good or acceptable geometry are rated poor overall because they cannot be positioned to protect many people.

Edited by empowah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Northstar    11

Well, that's certainly not good news for Ford and the Fusion. It seems like a pretty good product, but I wonder how many families will turn it down because of its crash test results.

So, this probably means the Milan and Zephyr aren't as good as competitors when it comes to safety.

To me though, safety doesn't play a huge role. I'm willing to bet most of today's cars hold up relatively well in real-world crashes. If I was concerned about safety, I wouldn't have wanted a GTO because there haven't been any crash tests for the GTO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sciguy_0504    0

Any car that does not have side airbags present during the test is going to be rated poorly.

Edit: The results of the G6 are a welcome improvement over the Grand Am.

Edited by sciguy_0504

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pow    106

Some notes...

* I suspect the extra length of the G6's wheelbase (compared to the Malibu sedan's) is to blame for the "marginal" side structure. The Malibu has an "acceptable" structure, and when equipped with option side airbags, is the only domestic, midsize Top Safety Pick.

* The Malibu also has more effective head restraints than the G6.

* Both the Malibu and G6 suggest injuries to the right tibia in the frontal crash. A knee airbag or a foam knee bolster would help.

* Without optional side airbags, both the Malibu and G6 get poor ratings for the side crash. Having them as standard would help improve perceptions of GM safety.

* The Fusion appears to have a strong structure, marred by not having side airbags as standard (and Ford not requesting a test with them).

* The TSX performed worse ("acceptable" side) than the Accord ("good" side).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
regfootball    234

another reason I am glad I got the 500 instead of the Fusion.

It looks like the G6 would not have fared well without the SAB.

notice how nothing is made of the Sonatas problems before the recall. How many other underengineered bits are on the Sonata?

The Acura is no prize, huh.

Of course the BMW is stoudt, it has subcompact room and weighs midsize. Lotsa structure!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
regfootball    234

Attention Ford and GM, SAB need to be standard on all the cars you sell unless you want the word "poor" in the description of your crash test results. I'm hoping they will be standard for 07.

totally agreed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moto_08    0

another reason I am glad I got the 500 instead of the Fusion.

It looks like the G6 would not have fared well without the SAB.

notice how nothing is made of the Sonatas problems before the recall.  How many other underengineered bits are on the Sonata?

The Acura is no prize, huh.

Of course the BMW is stoudt, it has subcompact room and weighs midsize.  Lotsa structure!

The Sonata is not a piece of crap anymore it's actually up there now with the top three and I'm surpised no one is praising on how dramtically well improved its crash test are definitely a car on many peoples list including mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
regfootball    234

The Sonata is not a piece of crap anymore it's actually up there now with the top three and I'm surpised no one is praising on how dramtically well improved its crash test are definitely a car on many peoples list including mine.

make sure you get one with the seats fixed first then........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
FUTURE_OF_GM    26

"Nearly every car now earns good ratings in our frontal test," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "The Fusion is acceptable, which isn't a bad result, but it's not competitive with other cars in its class. Based on this car's side and rear evaluations along with its acceptable frontal rating, the Fusion is the lowest rated moderately priced midsize car we've evaluated."

See what happens when you get a hit Ford????

IT GETS KILLED in order to seize the momentum.

New Fusion isn't up to par with midsize competitors: The Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan is among only two current midsize car designs (the other is the Dodge Stratus/Chrysler Sebring) that don't earn the highest rating of good in the Institute's frontal offset crash test. The Fusion without optional side airbags is rated poor for side crash protection, and it earned a marginal rating for rear crash protection

Oh, the first quote wasn't enough... They had to drag the Milan (Which they didn't test) in on the action too...

notice how nothing is made of the Sonatas problems before the recall. How many other underengineered bits are on the Sonata?

Nope, doesn't matter.... It's not domestic.

The Acura is no prize, huh.

Piece of sh*t, of course, you'll never see that anywhere in the press... Again, it's not a domestic so deficiencies don't matter.

Of course the BMW is stoudt, it has subcompact room and weighs midsize. Lotsa structure!

No mention of that in the media either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
FUTURE_OF_GM    26

Attention Ford and GM, SAB need to be standard on all the cars you sell unless you want the word "poor" in the description of your crash test results. I'm hoping they will be standard for 07.

Agreed 100%!!!!

You must go BEYOND the competition....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sciguy_0504    0

See what happens when you get hit in a Ford????

Couldn't resist. I wonder if the block Ford put in that area of the car had something to do with the bad right leg injury rating?

The Milan was drug into the story because it is a carbon copy of the Fusion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
carman21    7

blah blah blah, who cares I drive an '87 Pontiac 6000 STE with not an airbag in sight and I'm not scared. Ford will solve the problem on the '07s and fix many '06s. I suspect Ford will be replacing this gen in 4 years anyway,2011 MY.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pow    106

Interesting how the Fusion is lower than the Mazda 6. Did they change the platform significantly when making the Fusion?

No, they made it beefier. Look at the differences in side structure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moto_08    0

make sure you get one with the seats fixed first then........

The seats are already fixed that's why there was a recall but hey its a first year car what do you expect? Think of the other brands who knew about their safety issues and wait many years to finally recall their cars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this