BMW may have a longstanding (and well-deserved) reputation for safety, but the results of the latest round of IIHS crash testing may cloud that perception a bit in the U.S., at least for safety-conscious shoppers. In a batch of six sedans recently tested, the 2008 BMW 5-Series sedan was rated ‘Marginal’ — the next-to-lowest possible score — in the agency’s side-impact tests despite having standard head and torso side airbags.
In the side test, a barrier — meant to simulate the bumper of an SUV or pickup — bashes into the side of the car at 31 miles per hour.
On the other hand, Volvo again took the top spot in safety; with the S80’s ‘Good’ ratings and low overall chance of serious injury in this test, combined with its ‘Good’ ratings in front and rear crash protection, it earns the organization’s ‘Top Safety Pick’ label.
The Acura RL, Kia Amanti, and Volvo S80 all performed well in the test and received ‘Good’ ratings, while the Cadillac STS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class were given the ‘Acceptable’ rating. Each of these was a 2007 model.
The IIHS said that the 5-Series didn’t do well on the tests because it offered poor torso protection, and in the test there was a higher chance of internal injuries or rib or pelvic fractures. Its tubular head-protection system was effective, said the organization. Meanwhile, the Kia Amanti, the lowest-priced car in the group, was one of the best performers in the test, with minimal chances of injury and good head protection despite more intrusion than other cars in the group. All six vehicles included head-protecting airbags for both front and rear occupants.
According to the group, accidents involving side impact involve the second-highest number of fatalities, after frontal impacts, and while the proportion of driver deaths in frontal deaths has fallen in recent years due to better frontal protection and airbags, the rate has risen for side impacts mainly because of height mismatches when taller vehicles hit passenger cars.
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