Big Cars Score High In Crash Tests

Carousel - Joe Jackson waves as he departs the Jackson family home in the Encino section of Los Angeles, Tuesday, July 7, 2009, prior to a memorial service for Michael Jackson. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Five large family passenger cars and three large luxury models earned top ratings Sunday in frontal crash tests by the insurance industry.

The highest ratings went to 2005 family vehicles such as the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Five Hundred, Kia Amanti, Toyota Avalon and three luxury passenger cars; Acura RL, Cadillac STS and Lexus GS.

In the front crash test, vehicles strike a barrier on the driver side at 40 mph.

Adrian Lund, the chief operating officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry-funded group, said Chrysler had made strides in the frontal protection offered by the 300. The car starts at $24,200.

In 1999, two of the 300's predecessors, the Chrysler LHS, and its corporate twin 300M, received the institute's lowest rating for frontal crashes.

But in the recent tests, the 300's front compartment maintained its shape, letting the air bag and seat belt protect the dummy. When the dummy moved forward into the air bag, it returned to the seat without its head striking any structure that could have caused injury.

Lund called the 300 a "good performer across the board in the frontal test. This is the kind of performance we like to see."

Max Gates, a DaimlerChrysler AG spokesman, said the institute's test was one of many that the automaker takes into account when it designs and engineers vehicles.

"While no single test can determine a vehicle's overall safety performance, the Chrysler Group continues to pursue every opportunity to improve the crashworthiness of its vehicles," Gates said.