WASHINGTON - 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
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.