Thursday, 31 January 2008 17:00

Luxury Cars, SUV Earn 2008 Top Safety Awards

Written by Autobody News staff
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The redesigned Cadillac CTS, Audi A6 and Volvo S80 earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award for 2008 in the luxury car category. Among SUVs the new luxury Infiniti EX35 earned the Top Safety Pick.


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Winners of Top Safety Pick afford superior overall crash protection among the vehicles in their class. To qualify a vehicle must earn the highest rating of good in the Institute’s front, side, and rear tests and be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC).


“All luxury cars should perform as well as the CTS,” said Institute president Adrian Lund. “It’s a leader in its class for safety. Frontal crashworthiness has improved dramatically for all cars in recent years, but there are still significant differences in how vehicles perform in our side and  rear tests. Furthermore, the EX35 is a leader in its class for state-of-the-art safety.


“Criteria to win are tough because the award is intended to drive continued safety improvements such as top crash test ratings and rapid addition of electronic stability control, which is standard equipment on the CTS,” said Lund. “Recognizing vehicles at the head of the class for safety helps consumers distinguish the best overall choices without having to sort through multiple test results.”


The number of vehicles earning Top Safety Pick is increasing. Only 13 cars, minivans, and SUVs initially qualified for 2007 awards. At the beginning of the 2008 model year, the number of winners more than doubled to 34. As automakers introduce new models or make safety changes to existing ones, the Institute adds winners throughout the year.


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The 2003-07 CTS was rated poor for rear crash protection. Forces on the test dummy’s neck indicated that a person in a real-world crash of similar severity likely would sustain whiplash injury. General Motors redesigned the seats in the 2008 CTS to earn a better rating. When the Institute tested the new seat (standard in any CTS built after December 2007), it earned the highest rating of good for protection in rear crashes.

“You don’t know what kind of crash you’re going to be in,” Lund says. “That’s why it’s important to choose a vehicle that will protect you in all kinds of crashes. The Top Safety Pick designation is intended to help people find the safest choices.”

In 2007 the Institute made the criteria to earn the award tougher by adding a requirement that winners must be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC). This is based on Institute research indicating that ESC significantly reduces the risk of driver involvement in crashes in the first place.

Known by different names and called Stabilitrak on the CTS, ESC helps drivers maintain control in the worst situation — loss of control at high speed — by engaging automatically when it senses vehicle instability and helping to bring a vehicle back in the intended line of travel, often without the driver knowing anything is wrong. ESC lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half. It lowers the risk of a fatal rollover crash by as much as 80 percent.


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