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Insurance Industry Tests Highlight Poor Bumper Performance

September 8, 2003

Five of six new vehicles sold in the United States scored "poor" or "marginal" ratings in insurance industry low-speed crash tests measuring the damage from bumping into barriers at five miles per hour, according to a Reuters report.The news agency said Nissan’s Infiniti G35 luxury car sustained the most damage, an average of $1,481 in each of four crash tests on the front and rear bumpers to simulate common mishaps in commuter traffic and parking lots.The tests were conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an auto safety research group funded by the insurance industry."The G35's bumpers are a disaster," Adrian Lund, chief operating officer for the institute, reportedly said in a release. In one test backing the luxury car into a pole, "there was extensive damage to body panels including a crushed trunk lid and floor pan," Lund said, according to Reuters.In addition to the G35, Reuters added, the Mercedes-Benz E class luxury sedan and the Nissan Quest minivan also scored "poor" ratings while the Toyota Sienna minivan and the Saab 9-3 sedan both received "marginal" ratings. Only the Mazda6 sedan performed reasonably well, earning an "acceptable" rating with an average of $342 in each of the four crashes, the report said.Reuters noted that the new Saab 9-3, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna all sustained more damage than the previous models they replaced while the Quest recorded the biggest jump in damage, to an average of $1,137 per crash test, up from $366 previously, which earned a "good" rating.Reuters noted that the institute conducts the tests and publicises the results to pressure vehicle makers into making stronger bumpers -- thus reducing repair costs for insurance companies.
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