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New car crash test unveiled

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, one of two agencies providing new crash test ratings for cars, has unveiled a new crash test, and only 3 of the initial 11 cars tested earned ratings of acceptable or better.

The new small overlap frontal crash test was created to replicate an accident where the front corner of the car collides with another car or object such as a tree or utility pole. These types of crashes are the major cause of the more than 10,000 deaths that occur in frontal car crashes annually. In the test, 25 percent of the front driver's side of the car hits a five-tool-high rigid barrier at 40 miles per hour.

This is the first time the IIHS has run this test, and 11 midsize luxury and near-luxury sedans from the 2012 model year were tested. Only the Acura TL and the Volvo S60 earned ratings of good, the highest score, while the Infiniti G was rated acceptable. Typically insurance companies look at high crash test scores favorably, providing lower car insurance rates for those cars compared to similar models with worse crash test scores.  Four cars -- Acura TSX, BMW 3-Series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC -- were rated marginal, while the remaining four cars -- Audi A4, Lexus ES 350, Lexus IS 250/350 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class -- were rated poor.

The vast majority of new cars do well in the other types of frontal crash tests conducted by both the IIHS and the federal government. As a result, the IIHS feels the results from the new small overlap frontal crash test will spur automakers to improve frontal crash protection, further reducing the number of deaths and injuries in these types of car crashes.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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