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Most midsize family sedans failed a test by the insurance industry designed to see how well the cars would stand up to a side-impact crash with a pickup or SUV.

Twelve of 15 sedans failed the test, which involves a barrier shaped like the front end of an SUV “T-boning” the side of the vehicle at a 90-degree angle going 31 mph.

The test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety comes at a time when federal regulators are developing a side-impact test similar to the institute’s.

The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, equipped with optional head- and torso-protecting air bags, were the only vehicles to earn “good” ratings, which means occupants would likely not suffer serious injuries. The Chevrolet Malibu, tested with optional head protection air bags, scored “acceptable,” because its air bag system would likely result in torso injury, though not serious head injury.

Twelve models, including the Accord, Camry and Malibu without their optional air bags, scored “poor.” Three of the models that failed — the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Saturn LS — failed despite having side air bags.

Results of the institute’s crash tests, to be announced today, used crash-test dummies the size of a 12-year-old to predict injury to children and short adults.

The newer-design Malibu outperforming the older-design Saturn shows that GM is improving, General Motors Corp. spokesman Jim Schell said. GM plans to have head-protection air bags in all vehicles by 2009.

The other vehicles scoring poor tested without optional side air bags: Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Altima, Dodge Stratus, Chrysler Sebring, Mazda 6 and Suzuki Verona.

Source: The Detroit News
 

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Yes, it looks like all the years of satisfying the bigger is better addiction of the American buying public is finally paying off. Nothing like getting to say to everyone "If I mess up you die". To be fair, that was not what this test was about. 31 mph is a relatively slow speed but I guess it doesn’t take too much to damage the human head. I don’t see how cars with no side curtain airbags will ever be able to protect the passengers head in this sort of impact when its inches away from the glass or support to begin with. Perhaps some sort of one-way breakaway glass solution could be a cheap answer (its ok GM, I don’t have a patent). What is surprising is that cars with side airbags couldn’t protect against this sort of conservative impact. I imagine an entire failure of the passenger compartment integrity on the impact side would cause the air bags effectiveness to be marginalized. That, combined with the sudden acceleration a lightweight vehicle would attain in the direction of the force could also have played a part. The head stays in one place, the vehicle wants to go somewhere else, the glass convinces the head to come along and the door does the same for the body. Obviously there is a multipart solution which does not include banning light weight vehicles. I am not sure how far design elements of the SUVs front end could go toward solving this problem. After you solve the problem of the SUV riding up on top of the car through bumper modification, you still have the laws of physics to deal with. I know this is going to be a tough one to solve and may never be solved in smaller vehicles, only mitigated. :brick:
 

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Good to see the Malibu ranking up there. I would like to see the price of a side air bag equiped Malibu to a side air bag Camry and Accord.
And I love how people think that they might survive a side impact crash. If your getting hit in the side, chances are that you are going through an intersection, and a car is coming from the side at full speed, or more, trying to run the light. A friend of mine just got into one where a big dodge ram hit them in the side of there Dodge Shadow. 1 girl died, 1 girl(my friend) was in the hospital for a month, and the other one was in there for a few days. I dont think air bags would have saved them from that mega ram.
 

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Originally posted by zeobandit@Apr 19 2004, 01:06 PM
I'm glad tos ee the Malibu was rated acceptable. Usually GM vehicles get bad reviews on those tests.
I dont know about that there W body cars have done well in these tests in the past its just (NOT) reported very often. I WONDER WHY??? <_< :angry:
 

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This is important. I was surprised when some reviewers poked fun at the new SRX because it got their pant legs dirty (it's 17inches from the exterior of the car to the seat). Gee, I wonder why the engineers would want to move the passenger inward! :woot2: Duh!

What's weird is that manufacturers went from offering side impact protection standard (2002 Avalanche for example) and then made it optional in the following years. <_< The side curtain head bags are even more important in that test though. :type:
 

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taller, wider doors seem to be the only option... at least for larger cars.

most of the time, those tests are made at pathetic low speeds, they don't mean much compared with real life.
 

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Head-curtain airbags are peace of mind for many people, tho they may or may not be as effective as they are intended to be in real life crashes. The impact vehicle was said to be at 31MPH, how fast was the victim car passing it? I have real-world testimony of a compact car without airbags on the side protecting its driver from a 70mph train hitting on the driver's side (!!) These tests are fluff IMO and don't provide real-world data, but do offer opportunity for car mfrs to improve existing designs based on staged crash data.
 
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