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Elantra makes quantum safety leap

Improved: Hyundai's Elantra received a four-star rating for rear occupant protection in the latest NHTSA crash tests.

Hyundai's Elantra is proof the South Korean car-maker has made progress in the area of passive safety

15 Jan 2001

THE latest American crash test results have shown Hyundai's new Elantra sedan has made a quantum leap in side-impact protection for rear occupants.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last week revealed the Elantra, formerly known as Lantra in Australia, gained four stars for rear occupant protection after a side-on crash simulating an intersection-type collision between a stationary vehicle and one travelling at 50km/h.

The rating indicates a six to 10 per cent chance of serious injury and represents a significant improvement over a previous-generation, 2000 model year sedan that earned a solitary star - or at least a 26 per cent chance of life-threatening injury - in an equivalent test.

Front seat protection rated the maximum of five stars but the fitment of front side airbags (unavailable in Australia) makes these results inconclusive.

The South Korean manufacturer strengthened the new-generation Elantra body structure in areas such as the B-pillar and the doors' side-impact intrusion beams.

The previous Lantra had not been tested for side-impact protection in Australia, however it received a poor overall result in local front-on and frontal offset crash tests.

Also tested in the latest round of US side-impact tests were 2001 models of the Nissan Maxima (four stars for both front and rear seats, with and without front side airbags), the Daewoo Leganza (four stars front, three stars rear, no side airbags) and the Ford Explorer (five stars front and rear, with and without side airbags).

It was a good result for Explorer in particular, which has had a horror run in the US recently with the recent Firestone tyre recall and news that the NHTSA has opened a defect investigation into the popular four-wheel drive.

A front passenger was killed in a rollover crash in the US after the seatbelt came apart from the buckle.

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