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Compact off-roader safety improving

Bent but not broken: The Subaru Forester is a four-star NCAP performer.

Subaru Forester heads the latest round of crash test results

6 Dec 2002

CRASH test results from the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) show that the safety of light duty compact off-roaders is increasing.

Seven four-wheel drive wagons from the hot-selling area of the market gained four out of a possible five stars in the latest round of testing, while two more gained three stars.

The best performer was the new generation Subaru Forester launched earlier this year, followed by the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda Tribute and its non-identical twin, the Ford Escape.

The Suzuki Grand Vitara and Land Rover Freelander managed three stars.

This is a vast improvement over 1994 when compact 4WD testing started and one test vehicle scored only one star.

Back then none of the vehicles tested had an airbag fitted, but all the vehicles tested this year had driver and passenger airbags.

But some of the vehicles did not have side airbags as fitted in their European specification, and ANCAP called for an upgrade to local equipment lists to bring Australian models into line.

ANCAP crash tests assess the protection to front seat occupants in both a frontal crash and a side impact when the 4WD is struck by a small passenger car.

ANCAP testing is conducted in accordance with Euro NCAP procedures and while six of the vehicles were tested here, three sets of results were based on ENCAP testing.

Results of pedestrian impact testing released at the same time were less positive, with only the CR-V emerging with three stars out of a possible four.

The X-Trail and RAV4 scored two, the Freelander, Forester, Tribute and Santa Fe one star and the Grand Vitara bombed out with no stars. No result was issued for the Escape.

The pedestrian impact tests estimate head and leg injuries to pedestrians struck by a vehicle travelling at 40km/h.

ANCAP results - compact off-roaders

Subaru Forester - 28.78 out of 34 (4 stars)
Scored 12.78 out of 16 in the offset crash test.
The passenger compartment held its shape very well.

There was a slight risk of serious chest and leg injury for the driver and passenger.

Honda CR-V - 26.62 out of 34 (4 stars)
Scored 10.62 out of 16 in the offset crash test conducted by EuroNCAP.
The passenger compartment held its shape well. There was some risk of chest and leg injury for the driver. The Australian vehicle (without side airbags) scored 16 out of 16 in the side impact crash test.

Toyota RAV-4 - 25.11 out of 34 (4 stars)
Scored 10.194 out of 16 in the offset crash test.
The passenger compartment held its shape reasonably well.

There was a moderate risk of serious chest and leg injury for the driver. The vehicle scored 14.921 out of 16 in the side impact crash test. There was a slight risk of serious chest injury for the driver.

Nissan X-Trail - 25.1 out of 34 (4 stars)
Scored 9.097 out of 16 in the offset crash test.
The passenger compartment held its shape well except for excessive pedal movement. Protection from serious leg injury was poor for the driver. The Australian vehicle (without side airbags) scored 16 out of 16 in the side impact crash test.

Hyundai Santa Fe - 24.75 out of 34 (4 stars)
Scored 8.754 out of 16 in the offset crash test.
The integrity of the passenger compartment was questionable. There was a moderate risk of serious chest and leg injury for the driver. The vehicle scored 16 out of 16 in the side impact crash test.

Mazda Tribute/Ford Escape - 24.67 out of 34 (4 stars)
Scored 8.67 out of 16 in the offset crash test.
The passenger compartment held its shape reasonably well except in the footwell. Protection from serious leg injury was poor for the driver. The vehicle scored 16 out of 16 in the side impact crash test.

Suzuki Grand Vitara - 22.94 out 34 (3 stars)
Scored 8.089 out of 16 in the offset crash test.
The passenger compartment was judged to be structurally unstable. There was a moderate risk of serious chest and leg injury was for the driver. The vehicle scored 14.85 out of 16 in the side impact crash test. There was a slight risk of serious chest injury for the driver.

Land Rover Freelander - 19.92 out of 34 (3 stars)
Scored 6.434 out of 16 in the offset crash test.
The passenger compartment became structurally unstable. There was a moderate to high risk of serious chest and leg injury for the driver and passenger. The vehicle scored 13.48 out of 16 in the side impact crash test. There was a moderate risk of serious chest injury for the driver.

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