Poor crash ratings for popular SUVs

LOS ANGELES It's always good news to hear that vehicles are doing a better job of protecting passengers and drivers, but there is still work to be done. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) picked their best and worst performers in front, side, and rear crash tests.

As seen in a handout video from the IIHS, it took three different tests - some at speeds of 40 mph - to find the safest SUVs. The good news is that SUVs are getting safer overall, mostly because they are equipped with standard safety features such as side airbags, and especially electronic stability control.

"It can reduce your risk of fatal rollover crash by as much as 80 percent," said IIHS Senior V.P. Joe Nolan.

Unfortunately, even with those safety features, three of the nine SUVs tested earned marginal or poor ratings.

"This is surprising because these vehicles start with an inherent advantage of having a higher seating height for the occupants. That should be protective of side impact crashes. But some of these vehicles don't take advantage of that benefit," said Nolan.

Those three SUVs are the Jeep Liberty, 4-door Jeep Wrangler, and Kia Sorrento -- all from 2008. And the Hummer H3 was the only vehicle not to earn a high rating in the offset frontal test.

Meantime, the only vehicle in the SUV group to earn the Institute's top safety pick award is the 2009 Nissan Murano.

"That means it scored a good performance in our front, side and rear tests. You don't know which crash you'll be in, so it's important you choose a vehicle that protects you in all kinds of crashes," said Nolan.

If you're going to buy an SUV, or any vehicle for that matter, look for one equipped with side airbags and electronic stability control. Both are proven to significantly improve your safety in the event of a crash.

For the complete results of these latest crash tests, click here.


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