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IIHS Hands Out "Good" Ratings to Compact Utes

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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

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The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford Escape, and the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan Rogue, have earned a "good" rating from the insurance industry's crash-testing outfit.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the quartet of cute-utes gets the top rating for their performances in front side and rear impact tests. The IIHS notes that for the first time in this class, all the tested vehicles had standard electronic stability control, which makes them all Top Safety Picks by the agency's measures.

The IIHS adds that the Escape's ratings apply to its cosmetic twins, the Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute--and gave special notice to the Tiguan, which "sailed" through its crash tests.

Not faring so well is the two-door 2008 Jeep Wrangler. The IIHS reports its test--administered without optional side airbags--performed worse in a crash test than a previous test in a Wrangler where the side airbags weren't even available. The new rating for side impacts in the Wrangler is "poor," and the IIHS says the Jeep's driver door opened during impact.

Also tested were the Chevrolet Equinox and Jeep Patriot, which have optional side airbags. The Equinox and Pontiac Torrent will be retested as 2009 models, since side airbags will be standard equipment.

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