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Friday, August 18, 2006

Toyota Leads Pack in Industry Crash Test Ratings

Camry and Rav4 Earn Top Ratings in Front and Side Crash Tests

According to test results released by the insurance industry, the 2007 Toyota Camry and 2006 RAV4 small sport utility vehicle merited top grades in front and side crash tests.

In the institute's frontal-crash test, autos hit a barrier on the driver's side at 40 mph. In the side-impact test, to reflect the force of a pickup or sport utility vehicle, cars are struck with a barrier moving at 31 mph.

In reviewing six vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Camry and RAV4 top scores in protecting passengers in a crash. The redesigned Camry employs typical curtain-style side air bags to protect passengers' heads and side air bags to protect front seat motorists' midsections.

Also meriting top honors in frontal tests were the 2007 Dodge Caliber and 2006 Kia Optima. However, the Caliber performed poorly in marginal in side tests, garnering the second-to-lowest score. The Optima did not undergo testing for side protection.

The Caliber is an improved version of its former its past incarnation, the Dodge Neon sedan, protecting the heads of both dummies by deploying side curtain air bags. The Neon was rated poor in side-impact tests in the past.

To protect the torso, a spokesman said that in 2007, DaimlerChrysler AG would be offering optional side air bags in the Caliber.

The spokesman noted that the Caliber performed well in crash tests and that it earned five stars, the government's highest rating, for frontal and side impact crash protection.

Other high-scoring cars were the 2006 Lincoln Zephyr and 2005-06 models of the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, which earned the Institute's second-highest ranking of acceptable in front and side tests.

For more information about driver safety, The National Safety Commission and Lowest Price Traffic School offer safe teen driving resources for new drivers and their parents. Click here for our monthly newsletter for teen drivers and the Driver Education Guide for Parents.

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