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Five Vehicles Earn Top Honors in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Crash Tests

WASHINGTON November 21, 2005; Ken Thomas writing for the AP reported that vehicles made by Hyundai Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG and Subaru of America Inc. earned top honors in new crash tests of sport utility vehicles, minivans and sedans.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave five stars Monday in front and side-impact protection to the Hyundai Sonata sedan and Tucson SUV, Honda Odyssey minivan, Mercedes-Benz ML Class SUV and Subaru B9 Tribeca SUV.

The Pontiac G6 two-door coupe received the top score in rollover protection, with the government estimating a 9 percent chance of rollover in the vehicle.

The Mitsubishi Lancer, meanwhile, fared worst in side-impact protection among the vehicles; the four-door version was the only model to get two stars on side-impact protection for the driver. The score was based on previous testing and denotes a 21 to 25 percent chance of serious injury in a real-world crash.

Dan Irvin, a Mitsubishi spokesman, noted that it was an old test and said that side curtain air bags will become standard equipment on the vehicle in the 2007 model year. The Lancer received top scores in frontal protection.

NHTSA typically conducts new tests on vehicles when they are redesigned.

The majority of vehicles reviewed received either four or five stars in frontal- and side-impact protection. In addition to the vehicles that earned five stars on both tests, other top-performing vehicles included the 2006 Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Dakota, Nissan Armada and Ford Freestar.

For frontal tests, five stars means there is a 10 percent or less chance of serious injury and four stars estimates a 11 percent to 20 percent chance of serious injury. NHTSA conducts the front-impact test at 35 mph.

The side-impact test is conducted at 38.5 mph. The government estimates an 11 percent to 20 percent chance of injury for models scoring three stars. Vehicles receiving three stars in that category included the Toyota Scion xB, Chevrolet Cobalt, Kia Rio and Pontiac Grand Prix.

Toyota said in a statement that the Scion "meets or exceeds all federal government motor vehicle safety standards." GM declined to comment, and a message was left with a Kia spokesman.

In the government's rollover testing, every vehicle tested except the Pontiac G6 received four out of five stars. The rollover test simulates a driver steering sharply in one direction, then sharply in the other at speeds between 35 mph to 50 mph.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings: