The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-tested seven small SUV's at just five miles an hour and found some bumpers barely functional.
The Kia Sportage rated worst of all. Backing into a rear barrier -- something like a garage door -- it tallied a whopping $2,600 in damage.
Rear-mounted tires may add a flair of style, but they also appear to represent a flaw in design. When hit, the tire is forced through the back of the SUV.
"Style is overriding engineering considerations, said O'Neill.
The absence of a rear-mounted tire is probably why the Subaru Forester scored best overall.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen's new beetle beat those big bad SUV's hands down.
Reported by Sharyl Attkisson
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