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IIHS SAYS 8 of 9 Midsize SUVs Get High Safety Marks

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WASHINGTON December 1, 2003; Dee-Ann Durbin writing for the AP reported that eight of the nine midsize sport-utility vehicles tested won the highest safety rating in new high-speed crash tests, according to results released Sunday.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranked each vehicle based on its performance when the driver's side hit a barrier at 40 m.p.h. The highest rating -- good -- means that a driver wearing a seat belt probably would not be seriously injured in a similar crash.

The institute, based in Arlington, Va., tested vehicles that are new or recently redesigned. Those that earned the highest rating were the Lexus RX 330, the Infiniti FX, the Cadillac SRX, the Toyota 4Runner, the Nissan Murano, the Chrysler Pacifica, the Honda Pilot and the Mitsubishi Endeavor.

The Kia Sorento earned the second-highest rating: acceptable. The institute said the crash-test dummy in the driver's seat took hard hits from the steering wheel and the door.

Kia spokesman Kim Custer said Kia was surprised by the results because the Sorento has earned high ratings in government safety tests.

"We're looking at this closely, to see if there was an anomaly in that particular vehicle," he said.