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The Detroit News

Eight cars get top ratings in insurance industry crash tests
By Jeff Plungis / The Detroit News

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WASHINGTON -- Nearly every large passenger sedan provided good frontal crash protection in the latest round of insurance industry crash tests.
Seven of eight models tested earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "best pick" designation in test results released Sunday.
Some of Detroit's key new models earned that top safety designation, including the Ford Five Hundred, the Chrysler 300 and the Buick LaCrosse.
"Large cars are a good choice for consumers looking for a safe family vehicle, but some of them haven't always performed well in the Institute's frontal crash test," Insurance Institute chief operating officer Adrian Lund said.
In the Insurance Institute frontal crash test, the front end of a vehicle is struck by a barrier at an angle at 40 mph. It is considered a difficult test, because only a small part of a car's structure absorbs the energy of the crash. The same test is used in official testing programs in Europe, Japan and Australia.
Based on the latest test results, automakers are making structural changes necessary to perform well in this type of frontal crash, Lund said.
Example: The 1999 Chrysler LHS and 300M sedans performed poorly. The new Chrysler 300 sedan does a better job at maintaining the safety cage around occupants. The air bag also deploys more quickly, minimizing the chance for severe injury.
The institute commended Ford for earning high marks with the Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans. With its 1995 Taurus, Ford was the first automaker to earn a "best pick" designation on the Insurance Institute frontal test.
Of the 23 frontal crash tests the insurance institute has conducted on full-size, 2005 model year sedans, 22 were rated "good," and one was rated "acceptable." Seventeen of the 23 earned the "best pick" designation.
You can reach Jeff Plungis at (202) 906-8204 or [email protected].
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