NHTSA Tests More Vehicles Under Tougher 5-Star Safety Rating System

March 29, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to make its way through a backlog of vehicles waiting to be crash tested under a new, tougher system the NHTSA brought in last year.

In the latest rounds of tests, the Kia Optima—recently redesigned—received a perfect five star score in all categories. Previously, only the Honda Accord had achieved the top rating for all four categories: front and side crash tests, rollover crash test, and overall vehicle score.

A number of vehicles received near-perfect scores in the latest group tested. The following vehicles scored five stars in all categories with the exception of a four star rating in the tough rollover crash test:

  • Honda Odyssey
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Volvo XC60
  • Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab 1500
  • GMC Sierra 1500

Two vehicles did not fare well in the latest batch of vehicles tested. The Nissan Versa received three stars for the front crash test, two for the side, and four for the rollover test. This gave the Versa an overall score of just two. The other vehicle with less than stellar scores is the Ford Ranger truck. It received two stars in the front crash test, and three stars for the side and rollover tests. The Ford Ranger also received an overall score of just two stars.

The new crash test system

Beginning with 2011 models, the NHTSA introduced tougher tests and a new 5-Star Safety Rating system that includes an overall grade. The object was to provide more information about vehicle safety for consumers out looking to buy their next vehicle.

Under the old system, it was common for most vehicles to score well, making it difficult for consumers to know which vehicles in a given class were a better safety pick. The new system compares vehicles in the same class against each other, which results in a wider range of scores.  

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