; IIHS News_ November 28_ 2003
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IIHS News_ November 28_ 2003


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									                                      INSURANCE INSTITUTE
                                       FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY
                                                        NEWS RELEASE

 November 28, 2003

 VNR:      Friday 11/28/2003 at 10-10:30 a.m. EST (C) Telstar 6/Trans. 22;
           & again at 1-1:30 p.m. EST (C) Telstar 5/Trans. 19; fed in rotation

 ARLINGTON, VA — SUVs are advertised as rugged, but few have bumpers designed to with-
 stand a minor bump in a low-speed collision. Eight of nine new midsize sport utility
 vehicles (SUVs) earned poor or marginal ratings for bumper performance in 5 mph crash
 tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In this group, only
 the 2003 Honda Pilot is equipped with bumpers that resisted major damage. The Pilot
 earned an acceptable rating. The 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor, 2003 Nissan Murano, and
 2004 Lexus RX 330 are rated marginal. The 2003 Toyota 4Runner, 2004 Chrysler Pacifica,
 2003 Infiniti FX35, 2004 Cadillac SRX, and 2003 Kia Sorento are rated poor.

 The Institute’s series of four bumper tests includes front- and rear-into-flat-barrier
 plus front-into-angle-barrier and rear-into-pole impacts. The tests assess how well
 bumpers can prevent damage in 5 mph impacts simulating the fender-bender collisions

                                                   5 MPH CRASH TEST RESULTS, MIDSIZE SUVs

                                         Front           Rear          Front
                                          into           into           into      Rear      Total    Average
                                           flat           flat         angle      into    damage     damage       Bumper
                                         barrier        barrier        barrier    pole     4 tests   per test      rating

    2003 Honda Pilot                      $325           $404           $449      $438    $1,616      $404      ACCEPTABLE
    2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor              $307           $940         $1,012       $898   $3,157      $789       MARGINAL
    2003 Nissan Murano                    $630           $467         $1,216     $1,245   $3,558      $890       MARGINAL
    2004 Lexus RX 330                   $1,026           $565         $1,650       $712   $3,953      $988       MARGINAL
    2003 Toyota 4Runner                 $1,538          $952          $1,177     $1,317   $4,984     $1,246       POOR
    2004 Chrysler Pacifica              $1,293          $643           $509      $2,814   $5,259     $1,315       POOR
    2003 Infiniti FX35                  $1,387          $821          $2,042     $1,492   $5,742     $1,436       POOR
    2004 Cadillac SRX                     $388           $985         $2,390     $2,814   $6,577     $1,644       POOR
    2003 Kia Sorento                    $1,125         $1,325         $1,860     $2,273   $6,583     $1,646       POOR
    All repair costs reflect September 2003 parts and labor prices.

                                                              — MORE —

1005 N. GLEBE RD. ARLINGTON, VA 22201 TEL. 703/247-1500                              FAX 703/247-1588 www.highwaysafety.org
———        PAGE          2 ———
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

that are common in commuter traffic and parking lots. A good bumper system should
absorb the energy of these minor impacts and protect expensive body panels, headlamp
systems, and other components from damage.

“The manufacturers of these SUVs try to create a rough-and-tough image for them,
but their bumpers are flimsy,” says Adrian Lund, the Institute’s chief operating
officer. “Vehicles shouldn’t sustain major damage in a minor collision at a fast
walking speed.”

Average damage per test ranged from about $400 for the Pilot to more than $1,600
for the Sorento and SRX. Of the 33 current midsize SUV designs the Institute has
tested for bumper performance, 23 are rated poor, 6 are rated marginal, and 4 are
acceptable. None is rated good.

Rear bumpers fail to protect tailgates: Three of the poor performers had the largest damage
costs in the rear-into-pole test. The rear bumpers on the Chrysler Pacifica,
Cadillac SRX, and Kia Sorento weren’t robust enough to keep damage away from the
vehicles’ body parts and sheet metal. Damage totals for these vehicles were five
to six times more than the Pilot in the same test.

“Repair costs in the pole test were about $2,200 for the Sorento and more than
$2,800 each for the Pacifica and the SRX because the bumpers didn’t protect the
expensive-to-repair tailgates,” Lund says. “In each case, the tailgate was crushed
and had to be replaced. Those are big repair bills for a minor bump.”

Sorento and SRX are worst performers overall: Damage to these two vehicles totaled more than
$6,500 in all four tests.

“In the front-angle test, the SRX’s bumper couldn’t prevent major crushing of the
right fender. After the same test, the Sorento’s frame had to be straightened. In
the front and rear flat-barrier tests, which are the least demanding because the
crash energy is spread across the whole bumper, the Kia had repair bills of more
$1,000 in each test,” Lund points out.

                                         — MORE —
———        PAGE          3 ———
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Infiniti FX35 and Toyota 4Runner also rated poor: Lund notes that “the Infiniti is getting at-
tention for its swoopy styling, but Nissan engineers ignored the basics of good
bumper design.” After the front-corner test, there was more than $2,000 damage
— much of it under the bumper cover. The bumper bar was cracked and bent, the
radiator support was broken, and the headlamp assembly needed to be replaced. In
the same test, some of the damage to the 4Runner was because the bumper wasn’t big
enough to protect the whole front end.

“The right fender buckled and the headlamp was crushed in part because the bump-
er is too short and leaves the corners of the front end unprotected,” Lund says.

Honda Pilot has acceptable bumpers: In this group of midsize SUVs, only the Pilot is equipped
with bumpers that did a reasonable job of preventing damage to the vehicle.

“It’s not difficult or expensive to build a decent bumper," Lund says. "The Honda
bumper system isn’t great, but it’s the best of a sorry lot. It shows that man-
ufacturers can build SUVs with bumper systems that prevent costly damage in a
minor collision.”

End 3-page release on crash tests to assess bumper performance
VNR 11/28/03, 10-10:30 a.m. EST, (C)Telstar 6/Trans. 22; fed in rotation
and again at 1-1:30 p.m. EST, (C) Telstar 5/Trans. 19; fed in rotation
VNR includes crash test footage of best and worst performing SUVs

Internet: www.highwaysafety.org

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