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Two dozen 2007 passenger vehicles get top scores in U.S. crash tests

February 14, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two dozen 2007 passenger vehicles received top scores in government crash ratings Tuesday under a system that is expected to be revised to offer more meaningful information for car buyers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 17 sport utility vehicles received five stars in front-end and side-impact tests: Acura MDX and RDX; Audi Q7; Dodge Nitro; Ford Freestyle; GMC Acadia; Honda CR-V and Element; Hyundai Santa Fe; Infiniti FX35/45; Jeep Grand Cherokee; Kia Sorento and Sportage; Mazda CX-7; Saturn Outlook; Subaru Outback; and Toyota Highlander.

Seven Passenger cars also got top billing: Dodge Caliber; Ford Five Hundred; Kia Optima; Mercury Montego; Subaru Legacy; Saturn Aura and Toyota Camry.

The test results are frequently cited in advertising, but the government's watchdog group and others have said the "star system" needs to be improved because most vehicles receive four or five stars under NHTSA's system.

The grade inflation makes it more difficult for consumers to compare vehicles.

Most of the 2007 vehicles received four or five stars in frontal and side testing.

Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said last month that NHTSA planned to upgrade the New Car Assessment Program to enhance test ratings while measuring new crash avoidance technologies.

The proposal would alter the front-end test to rate vehicles for their ability to prevent upper leg injuries and improve the side test to examine how side air bags can protect a driver's head. Also being discussed is a summary rating combining the test scores.

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