Dodge Dart, Lexus ES 350, Hyundai Santa Fe and Subaru XV Crosstrek named Top Safety Picks

Article by Christian A., on October 6, 2012

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Dodge Dart as one of four new vehicles available in the U.S. to earn the "Top Safety Pick" award. The three other models are the Hyundai Motor Co. crossover Santa Fe, the Lexus ES 350 midsize luxury sedan, and the Subaru XV Crosstrek hatchback. Chrysler is relying on the Dodge Dart to be a top-selling small car.

The 2013 Dart is the first model that Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler Group LLC jointly engineered and designed. Being named a "Top Safety Pick" means that the vehicle had a good performance in test crashes that evaluated front, side and rear impacts, and even rollovers. Reid Bigland, chief of Chrysler's Dodge brand, said that its engineers were able to deliver on their high expectations for the Dart.

Russ Rader, IIHS spokesman, said that the IIHS tested 180 vehicles for the 2012 model year. From that batch, 132 were awarded the Top Safety Pick designation. This December, the IIHS will issue its annual list of the safety report for vehicles available in the U.S. market.

Rader said that tests were conducted on these four models after their automakers asked for these tests before the normal IIHS schedule. These four models were presented to the U.S. in the past several months. Hyundai sold 7,378 Santa Fe units, the highest sales among the new models in September. This is 19% higher than last year’s record. It also signifies a major improvement over August sales of 4,524.

Hyundai is attributing the success to the newer model’s attractiveness. Last month, Hyundai said that it sought to sell 100,000 of the recently remodeled Santa Fe vehicles in the 2013 model year in the U.S. market.

Toyota Motor Corp. sold 6,553 Lexus ES vehicles in September in the U.S. market, about 81% from a year ago. According to a Lexus spokesman, about 80% of the cars sold in September were the new 2013 model. The Dart sold 5,235 units in September in the U.S., higher than the 3,045 units sold in August. For the Subaru's XV Crosstrek's first full month of sales in September, 192 units were sold.

Since its introduction more than 20 years ago, the famous Lexus luxury cars is down to its sixth generation with its latest 2013 ES300h and ES350 models. These models, which bring the luxury segment to a whole new level of excellence and refinement, feature the Lexus’ trademark spindle grille, new developed design and improved handling. These new models are sure to impress both loyal and new ES lovers with the Lexus Hybrid Drive.

Improved Engine, Transmission, Performance and Drivetrain

It is the very first time Lexus ES adopts the Lexus Hybrid Drive which features an Atkinson cycle engine with a 2.50-liter four-cylinder. With this new feature, ES300h is set to gain an EPA fuel economy assessment at 40 mpg for city, a rate of 39 mpg for highway and a total of 39 mpg for both. Its total system also generates 200 horsepower.

With goals of increasing overall efficiency, the improved engine of low friction is set to utilize refined power management system combined with a high compression ratio of 12.5:1. This engine is not in need of accessory belts as it is armed with electric power steering, electric water pump and a unified fused electric motor/generator which helps progress total reliability and outstanding fuel economy.

The new ES350 model is also run by a Dual VVT-i V6 engine of 3.5 liters which delivers a total of 268 horsepower at only 6,200 rpm as well as a 4,700 peak torque of 248 lb.-ft. It is also equipped with an Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) six-speed sequential-shift automatic which offers an improved driving performance, outstanding fuel efficiency as well as exceptional smooth shifts while its low friction materials add more efficiency and helps with the car’s fuel economy approximations of 21 mpg for city, 31 mpg for highway and a rate of 24 mpg for both.

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