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Crash test - IIHS rates small and compact cars

Consumer Reports News: December 17, 2008 12:09 AM

Only two out of eight small cars in the latest tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provide good side crash protection, once again reinforcing the need for consumers to carefully review the safety equipment and safety ratings for models under consideration for purchase.

In this group, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 was the best performer, getting good ratings for front-and side-crash protection. The Toyota Matrix, and its twin Pontiac Vibe, also got good ratings for side-crash protection. The Chevrolet HHR earned good frontal-crash protection and acceptable performance in side crashes.

At the other end of the spectrum, the oldest model in this group, Chrysler PT Cruiser was the worst performer in the side test, earning the lowest rating of poor for protection in side crashes. The Hyundai Elantra and Saturn Astra earn the second lowest rating of marginal.

Small and compact cars
The December IIHS crash-test group is listed below in rank order, with the specific air bag configuration tested and applicable model years listed.

Suzuki SX4
Front - Good; Side - Good

Front and rear head curtain air bags and front torso air bags.
Front and side: 2008-2009 models

Toyota Matrix (and Pontiac Vibe)
Side - Good

Front and rear head curtain air bags and front torso air bags.
Side: 2009 models

Chevrolet HHR
Front - Good; Side - Acceptable

Front and rear head curtain air bags
Front: 2006-2009 models, side: 2009 models

Ford Focus
Side - Acceptable

Front and rear head-curtain air bags and front torso air bags.
2008-09 models

Mini Cooper
Side - Acceptable

Front and rear head-curtain air bags and front torso air bags.
Side: 2008-09 models manufactured after July 2008

Saturn Astra
Front - Good; Side - Marginal

Front and rear head curtain air bags and front torso air bags.
Front and side: 2008-09 models

Hyundai Elantra
Side - Marginal

Front and rear head-curtain air bags and front torso air bags.
Side: 2007-09 models

Chrysler PT Cruiser
Front - Good; Side - Poor

Front combination head and torso airbags and driver inflatable knee bolster
Front: 2006-09 models, side: 2008-09 models

—Desiree Calamari

   

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