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Rollover ratings improve for SUVs

August 29, 2007|From the Associated Press

washington -- Many new sport utility vehicles, equipped with anti-rollover technology, are less of a risk for rollover crashes than their predecessors, the government said Tuesday.

Rollover ratings issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2007 model year vehicles show SUVs making progress over older vehicles.

The ratings give consumers information on the likelihood of rollovers, which kill more than 10,000 motorists a year in the U.S. -- more than a third of motorists killed in the country annually.

Seventy-eight 2007 model year SUVs received a four-star rating in the rollover tests, according to an Associated Press analysis.

More than half the 2007 SUVs had four-star ratings, compared with 48 of the 2006 SUVs that earned four stars out of 103 of the vehicles rated. Only one SUV received four stars in 2001.

To guard against rollovers, automakers have increasingly installed electronic stability control into their vehicle lineups.

The anti-rollover technology, which was first introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 1995, automatically applies brakes to individual wheels when the vehicle begins skidding off course, helping to steady the vehicle.

Eighty-six percent of 2007 SUVs have stability control as standard equipment, up from 43% in 2005.

In NHTSA testing, no SUV has earned a top five-star rating. Under the ratings system, a vehicle with five stars has a rollover risk of less than 10%. A four-star vehicle has a 10% to 20% risk and a three-star vehicle has a 20% to 30% risk.

Newly tested 2007 SUVs receiving the four-star rating include: Infiniti FX35, Mazda CX-7, Ford Edge and Explorer Sport Trac, Hyundai Santa Fe and Veracruz, Jeep Compass, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Touareg, Acura MDX and RDX, Suzuki XL7 and Saturn Outlook.

The 4X4 version of the Kia Sportage and the 4X2 version of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited also earned four stars. Test results were carried over for vehicles that were unchanged from the previous model year. A partial listing can be found at latimes.com/rollover.

In April, the government said electronic stability control would be required in all new vehicles by the 2012 model year, estimating it could save 5,300 to 9,600 lives a year once it is fully deployed.

For pickup trucks, 74 of the vehicles from the 2007 model year earned four stars out of 89 pickups rated. That compares with 53 pickups from the 2006 model year earning four stars out of 71 pickups rated.

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