2011 5-Series and 2011 Sonata get the highest rating at U.S. crash tests

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 5, 2010

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration David Strickland presented the public with a new and improved 5-Star Safety Ratings System designed for new vehicles.

The announcement also included a newly issued safety rating for the 2011 vehicle models that have been tested under the program. Under the new ratings system, side pole crash testing will now be done and the vehicle’s crash prevention technologies will be evaluated as well.

Furthermore, female crash test dummies will also now be used to simulate different crash scenarios. According to Secretary LaHood, the more stars a car has, the safer it is. The upgraded rating system means that the bar of safety has been raised.

Secretary LaHood added that because of the new tests, improved crash data, and even higher standards, the safety ratings become that much tougher for the automakers but they become more relevant to the consumers.

The safety ratings range between 1 star to 5 stars with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. The change was the result of many vehicles managing to attain highest rating under the old rating system. Since the new standards are more demanding in nature, there is the possibility that those previously rated 5 stars may not be able to rate the same.

The improved 5-Star Safety Ratings System looks into the safety of different vehicles like cars, vans, pickup trucks, SUVs. The test is done in three areas, which include the frontal crash, the side crash, and its rollover resistance. For the 2011 models, the NHTSA planned to use the new system to rate two vans, nine pickups, 20 sport utility, and 24 passenger cars.

Strickland shared that the NHTSA wants consumers to accept safety technologies to ensure that the vehicles are safer. Strickland added that the department looks into the electronic stability control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

These different features offer some significant benefits when it comes to safety and consumers should take them into consideration when purchasing a new vehicle, Strickland concluded. Another important change to the rating program is the inclusion of the Overall Vehicle Score after each vehicle has been tested.

The Overall Vehicle Score is the combination of the three different tests: frontal crash, side crash, and rollover resistance. The score obtained is then compared to the average risk of injury and the possibility of vehicle rollover of the other vehicles.

The Agency proposed that consumers must only consider vehicles that have crash avoidance technologies able to meet the minimum performance tests. The minimum performance tests include the forward collision warning, electronic stability control, and lane departure warning.

All 2011 model vehicles have the electronic stability control as standard though the Nissan has been rated as optional. For those who are interested to learn about the new rating system for vehicles, additional information can be found on the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program website at www.safercar.gov.

In addition, consumers can also visit Safercar.gov, to get more complete information on safe driving, safety recalls, passenger safety, and vehicle defects.

Press Release

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Rolls Out Upgraded 5-Star Vehicle Safety Ratings System

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland today unveiled an enhanced 5-Star Safety Ratings System for new vehicles and released the safety ratings for the first model year 2011 vehicles tested under the program. The upgraded ratings system will now evaluate side pole crash testing and crash prevention-technologies. And, for the first time, it will use female crash test dummies to simulate crash scenarios involving women, not just men.

"More stars equal safer cars," said Secretary LaHood. "With our upgraded Five-Star Safety Ratings System, we're raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data, and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers."

Vehicle safety ratings range from 1 to 5 stars, with 1 star being the lowest and 5 stars the highest. Because so many vehicles had reached the highest rating under the old rating criteria, and because the new standards are much more rigorous, not all previously rated 5-star vehicles will remain at 5 stars.

The new 5-Star Safety Ratings System evaluates the safety of passenger cars, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks in three broad areas – frontal crash, side crash, and rollover resistance. For model year 2011, NHTSA will rate 24 passenger cars, 20 sport utility vehicles, two vans and nine pickups under the new ratings system.

"We want consumers to embrace these new safety technologies as a way to make vehicles safer," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland. "We believe electronic stability control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning offer significant safety benefits and consumers should consider them when buying a new car."

One of the most significant changes to the ratings program for consumers is the addition of an Overall Vehicle Score for each vehicle tested. The Overall Vehicle Score combines the results of a frontal crash test, side crash tests and rollover resistance tests and compares those results to the average risk of injury and potential for vehicle rollover of other vehicles.

NHTSA recommends consumers consider vehicles with crash avoidance technologies that meet the 5-Star Safety Ratings minimum performance tests, such as forward collision warning (FCW), lane departure warning (LDW), and electronic stability control (ESC). All of the 2011 model year vehicles currently rated have ESC as standard, except for the Nissan Versa, in which it is optional.

More information, including the full list of newly-rated vehicles is available at the official website for the Federal government's 5-Star Safety Ratings Program, www.safercar.gov. At Safercar.gov, consumers can also find comprehensive information about safe driving, vehicle defects, safety recalls, and passenger safety.

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