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Crunch Time

March 07, 2001

Hyundai's redesigned Elantra compact sedan recently outscored the iconic Honda Civic and five other redesigned or new 2001 models in 5-mile-per-hour crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The results tally repair costs from front and rear crashes into car-sized barriers and steel poles--the same kinds of obstacles found in most parking lots. Overall damage to the Elantra in the four crashes was less than half the total when the previous model was tested in 1999. Complexity of design and cost of repair parts affects the damage totals. Mercedes-Benz, for example, used to sell only the entire headlamp assembly for its C-series vehicles, at a cost of $250. Now the company sells a $15.50 kit that enables most damaged headlamps to be repaired instead of replaced.

Cumulative repair cost comparisons for all seven vehicles tested in January:

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Total repair cost 2001 Previous Vehicle Type test model Hyundai Elantra small car $839 $1,714 Honda Civic small car 1,481 1,570 Ford Focus (2000 model) small car 2,614 NA Dodge Stratus/Chrysler Cirrus midsize 2,551 2,953 Mercedes-Benz C320 midsize luxury 4,448 NA Lexus LS430 large luxury 2,761 3,803 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan 4,122 4,556

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Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

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