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Santa Fe tops US crash test

Good stuff: The Hyundai Santa Fe earned an overall "good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Hyundai's new compact 4WD goes to the top of the crashworthiness class

26 Apr 2001

HYUNDAI'S new Santa Fe has starred in a US crash test, outperforming the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute twins.

Based on its performance in a 40mph (64km/h) frontal offset crash, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has rated the Santa Fe V6 the best of 10 compact 4WDs currently on sale in the US it has tested.

Its overall rating is "good", with only the Subaru Forester able to claim the same accolade.

The RAV4 received an "acceptable" rating while the Escape and Tribute were only "marginal". The institute described that result as "disappointing".

The Santa Fe went on sale in Australia late last year, while the Escape and Tribute were launched in March. The new generation RAV4 went on sale here in July 2000.

The institute assesses three aspects of crashworthiness crash energy management injury risk measured on an average-sized Hybrid III dummy and how well the dummy's movement is controlled by the belt and airbag and perform with the steering wheel and other vehicle parts.

The tests were conducted on left-hand drive vehicles, a factor the industry here often points to when questioning the validity of independent overseas crash tests.

The Santa Fe held up very well in the crash test, with little intrusion into the occupant's compartment.

"The only problem was that the dummy's head hit the B-pillar hard during the rebound from the airbag," said institute president Brian O'Neill.

The RAV4's rating improved from "marginal" for the old model tested in 1998: "In particular, the structural performance improved. But there still is room for improvement," Mr O'Neill said. "The dummy's head hit the steering wheel through the airbag, and there was a possibility of injury to both lower legs." The institute found there was a high likelihood of right leg injury in the Escape/Tribute because of "moderate to major" intrusion into the driver's footwell area.

The dummy's head struck the steering wheel through the airbag and then during the rebound its head struck the B-pillar. Both head impacts were hard.

"Overall this is a disappointing showing," said O?Neill. "The Escape was Ford?s joint program with Mazda, and clearly this co-operative effort didn't produce a particularly crashworthy design." IIHS Top 10 Hyundai Santa Fe V6 2001: Good Subaru Forester 1999-2001: Good Jeep Wrangler 1997-2001: Average Toyota RAV4 2001: Average Suzuki Grand Vitara 1999-2001: Average Kia Sportage 1998-2001: Marginal Honda CR-V 1997-2001: Marginal Jeep Cherokee 1997-2001: Marginal Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute 2001: Marginal Isuzu Amigo/Isuzu Rodeo Sport 1998-2001: Poor* *Not sold in Australia

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