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Six New SUVs Fare Poorly in IIHS Crash Tests

July 31, 2001

Six out of seven new midsize sport utility vehicles fared poorly due to bad bumpers in slow-speed crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.The IIHS, a U.S. insurance industry group that lobbies automakers on safety issues, published results of the crash tests on July 31. The tests aimed to determine how the SUVs performed in four different front-and rear-end crashes staged at five miles per hour, and IIHS said the results highlighted remarkably poor bumper design overall. "Automakers are marketing new midsize SUV models for 2001 and 2002, but most of these vehicles aren't being equipped with bumpers that resist damage in the kinds of impacts that routinely occur in commuter traffic and parking lots," IIHS said in a statement. Among the seven vehicles tested, only Honda Motor Co.'s 2001 Acura MDX scored high marks for what the IIHS described as "the best bumpers of any midsize SUV" it had ever tested. The worst performer, meanwhile, was Suzuki Motor Corp.'s 2001 Grand Vitara XL-7, which sustained nearly $6,000 in damages in the crash tests compared with a total of less than $1,800 for the Acura MDX. "The worst of a generally bad lot," Adrian Lund, chief operating officer of IIHS, said of the Suzuki. The runner-up in the worst performing category, was the 2002 Buick Rendezvous, advertised in a recent media blitz on television by U.S. golf star Tiger Woods. The Rendezvous is manufactured by General Motors Corp. , which owns a 20 percent stake in Suzuki. It suffered nearly $5,600 in damages in the crash tests, according to IIHS. The 2001 Pontiac Aztek and all-new 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer were two other GM vehicles tested and criticized by the IIHS for their bumper systems. Rounding out the bad bumper list were Toyota Motor Co.'s 2001 Highlander and the 2002 Axiom, a vehicle produced by Isuzu Motors Ltd. GM owns a 49 percent stake in Isuzu.
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