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2011 Hyundai Sonata and BMW 5 Series Get 5-Star Crash Ratings Under NHTSA's Stricter Testing

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On: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 4:47PM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Hyundai Sonata and BMW 5 Series Get 5-Star Crash Ratings Under NHTSA's Stricter Testing

Over the summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it was implementing stricter crash testing procedures for the 2011 model year. The new system includes a single, multi-star rating for the first time, and initial test results indicate that only two cars will occupy the top, 5-star slot: the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the 2011 BMW 5 Series.

The 5-star rating reflects the newly implemented "Overall Vehicle Score," which combines frontal crash testing, side crash testing, and rollover resistance testing. The testing procedures are more rigorous under the NHTSA's revised procedures. In addition to the new overall score, NHTSA's rating procedure now incorporates a new side pole crash test, includes weighting based upon crash-prevention technologies like electronic stability control, and uses female crash test dummies for the first time.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said of the new procedures: “With our upgraded Five-Star Safety Ratings System, we’re raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data, and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.”

Initially, the BMW 5 Series stood alone in the 5-star category, but Hyundai asked that the NHTSA retest the Sonata, which was originally given a 4-star rating. Upon the second testing, the NHTSA agreed with Hyundai that the Sonata is 5-star material.

The NHTSA's rating system runs from one to five, with five representing the best crash test results. Having just two models in the initial 5-star category immediately demonstrates that the NHTSA's new rating system is stricter than its old one, which included more models in the highest category.

Below the Sonata and 5 Series, a number of cars received 4-star ratings. These models include the 2011 Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Subaru Outback, and Toyota Sienna. The lowest vehicle in NHTSA's initial testing was the 2011 Nissan Versa, which scored a two.

The NHTSA will test 55 vehicles for 2011 crash testing, including 24 passenger cars, 20 sport utility vehicles, two vans, and nine pickups. The results that it released this week include 32 models. The agency will add results at safecar.gov as it continues with testing.

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