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Personal Finance > Autos
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SUVs pass crash tests
graphic December 11, 2001: 10:00 a.m. ET

Ford Explorer, Acura MDX top performers in high-speed test.
By CNN's Julie Vallese
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - The latest round of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives passing grades to sport/utility vehicles, according to a report released Tuesday.

All 11 SUVs tested in high-speed crashes passed, but some were rated better than others.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Ford Explorer and the Acura MDX the agency's highest rating, a best pick. The Acura MDX, Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer, Toyota Highlander, Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 and Mitsubishi Montero Sport all received a good rating. The head of the agency says it's clear that manufacturers are starting to pay attention to structure when building these popular vehicles.

"In the past we haven't seen so many vehicles in a group get good ratings, with none rated poor," institute President Brian O'Neill said. "Vehicle designs are getting better, as this group of SUVs demonstrates."

The all-new Jeep Liberty was tested twice. In the first round of tests the vehicle's air bag fired late. Because of the institute's test, DaimlerChrysler (DCX: down $0.72 to $41.02, Research, Estimates) determined there was a defect in the wiring of the vehicle's air bag system and recalled 120,000 vehicles. In the second round of testing the air bag fired on time and the problem was deemed fixed, but the vehicle received a marginal rating because high force levels were measured on the crash dummy's head.

The Pontiac Aztek, Isuzu Rodeo and Chevy TrailBlazer also earned marginal ratings. The Aztek had problems with the steering wheel shifting and high levels of force were measured to the dummy's head.

This was the second test for the Rodeo because the manufacturer indicated it had improved the air bag system on the vehicle. But tests showed the change "only slightly" improved the system, O'Neill said.

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Ford Explorer. (Source: Ford)
The TrailBlazer replaces the Blazer for model year 2002. The last time the institute tested the vehicle was in 1996, and the group rated it poor. But the new design of the TrailBlazer shows great improvement, although it was rated marginal. The structure allowed for less intrusion to the occupant compartment and low movement of the steering wheel.

"The performance of the TrailBlazer is a big improvement compared with the Blazer. It wouldn't take much for the TrailBlazer to improve to a rating better than marginal," said O'Neill.

The Montero sport, Toyota Highlander and Suzuki Grand Vitara all earned good ratings. The Buick Rendezvous and Isuzu's Axiom were rated acceptable.

The Trailblazer, Rendezvous and Aztek are General Motors (GM: down $2.45 to $47.89, Research, Estimates) products. In a statement GM said, "This test does not reflect the wide variety of crash modes that GM considers in the design, engineering and testing of our vehicles nor can it account for all of a vehicle's crash avoidance capabilities."

The institute believes its tests are the best measure of what can happen in high-speed crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent agency funded in part by insurance companies. Their tests are meant to complement those done by the federal government. The goal of the agency is to provide consumers with more information and to help consumers buy safer vehicles. graphic





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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.

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