The Subaru Forester was the only one of ten small sport utility vehicles tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to receive a "good" crash rating.
At the opposite end of the spectrum the Isuzu Amigo, the lone SUV to test "poorly."
The other vehicles finished in between. Four vehicles ranked "acceptable" in the 40 mile per hour frontal crash test: Jeep Wrangler, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Suzuki Vitara, Chevrolet Tracker. Four others were rated "marginal": Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Jeep Cherokee.
"These vehicles are marketed as rough-tough, off-road, truck-like vehicles. In many cases they're certainly not tough or very rugged," says Julie Rochman of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A new study by J.D. Power and Associates reveals a high demand for high tech safety features. Ninety-one percent of car buyers want anti-lock brakes, 65 percent want side-impact air bags, and 58 percent want tires that won't go flat.
"Consumers are increasingly demanding an inherent level of safety in vehicles and you're seeing that through the desirability of airbags and fun-flat tires and those type of features," says Jacques Dacosta of J.D. Power and Associates.
The increasing public interest in safety is not lost on the government's top auto regulator, Ricardo Martinez.
After months of investigating side impact crashes, Martinez and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are now moving towards toughening standards.
Automakers aren't about to fight safety, in a time when it clearly sells.
Reported By Bob Orr