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Thursday, April 05, 2001
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BMW Safest In SUV Crash Tests

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio--The BMW X5 performed better than any SUV ever tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its 40 mph offset crash test. Based on the results, the X5 has been rated a “Best Pick” by the Institute--the third BMW to rate that distinction. And, the X5 topped-out as the best vehicle yet tested.

The tests were conducted on the Mitsubishi Montero, Isuzu Trooper, BMW X5 and Nissan Xterra.

Each vehicle was crashed into a deformable barrier with only the left side of the vehicle striking the barrier. This type of crash introduces significant twisting forces to the already severe impact. “The performance of the BMW X5 in our high-speed offset test was outstanding,” said Brian O’Neill, IIHS president.

“The occupant compartment, or safety cage, sustained very little damage. Measured intrusion into the compartment was less than in any other vehicle the Institute has tested,” said O’Neill.

The worst performer was the 2000 model Isuzu Trooper (the results of this test initiated a vehicle recall).

Full-motion video and analysis of the results are featured at, an Internet site hosted by Progressive Insurance.

The Institute’s crashworthiness evaluations are based primarily on results from frontal offset crash tests at 40 mph. The federal government has been testing new passenger vehicles in 35 mph crash tests since 1978.

The Institute’s offset tests, conducted since 1995, involve 40 percent of a vehicle’s front end hitting a deformable barrier at 40 mph. This test complements the federal test involving the full width of the front end hitting a rigid barrier. Both tests are contributing to improvements in crashworthiness--in particular improved crumple zones and safety cages.

“Understanding how vehicles react in high-speed crashes is important for consumers,” said Toby Alfred, Internet site manager for Progressive. “People want to know how well a vehicle will protect them in a 40 mile an hour crash. Now they can come to and find out.”

The Institute’s crashworthiness ratings--good, acceptable, marginal, or poor--are based primarily on performance in the 40 mph frontal offset crash test into a deformable barrier. This impact is especially demanding of vehicle structure. The driver side of the vehicle hits the barrier, so a relatively small area of the front-end structure must manage the energy produced by the crash. This means intrusion into the occupant compartment is more likely to occur than in a full-width test.

“We are delighted to see Progressive use our video and results on its website,” said O’Neill. “The more access insurance consumers get to these kinds of results, the more pressure there will be on automakers to improve their designs,” he added.

More details on the test may be found at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website at


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