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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Acura RL, Kia Amanti and Volvo S80 Earn Highest Safety Rating in Crash Tests

BMW Sedan Earned Poorest Marks

In new side-impact crash tests of luxury sedans conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Acura RL, Kia Amanti and Volvo S80 all earned the highest safety rating. The Cadillac STS and Mercedes E-Class earned the second-highest rating. The 2008 BMW 5 Series was the worst performer.

The institute said that after a frontal crash, side-impact crashes are the most common type of fatal crash, killing around 9,000 people on U.S. roadways in 2005. The tests were intended to demonstrate what would happen if a truck or sport utility vehicle hit the side of the sedan at 31 mph, the speed of a grievous crash.

In a news release, Insurance Institute President Adrian Lund said, "Growing sales of SUVs and pickups have exacerbated height mismatches among passenger vehicles, thereby increasing the risks to occupants of many vehicles struck in the side."

All six sedans were outfitted with standard side air bags. The air bags in the BMW 5 Series shielded the head, but according to the institute, separate air bags intended to protect the chest and abdomen performed poorly.

BMW spokesman Thomas Plucinsky said the institutes's test suggested that the 5 Series has a strong body structure, but the dummy was injured when it was struck by the armrest. Plucinsky said BMW does up to 12 crash tests on all its cars in addition to computer simulations of crashes.

"The issue is that depending on the location of seat, the location of dummy, the location of the sled, the results could change," he said. "This was one test on one day on one car."

With a starting price of around $25,500, the Kia Amanti was one of the lowest priced sedans in the group, but it offered greater protection than more expensive vehicles. According to automotive research site, the BMW 5 Series starts at $43,500, while the Mercedes E-Class starts at $50,550.

Lund said, "The Amanti shows that you don't have to buy an expensive car to get good protection in crashes with SUVs and pickups."

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