Wednesday, 30 November 2005 17:00

Test results: Ford Freestyle SUV is top performer

Written by Autobody News staff
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Ford's Freestyle, a mid-size SUV introduced for the 2005 model year, earned the highest rating of good in a 40 mph frontal offset test recently conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the Institute). The Freestyle also earned the "best pick" designation for frontal crash test performance. 

This brings to seven the number of current mid-size SUV designs that have earned good ratings in the Institute's frontal crash test. Four of the good performers - 2006 models of Toyota 4Runner, Chrysler Pacifica and Nissan Murano, along with the Ford Freestyle - are "best picks" as well Also rated good were the Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7, Toyota Highlander and Mitsubishi Endeavor. Not quite making the grade were the Kia Sorrento and Buick Rendezvous which were rated acceptable. Rated marginal was the Jeep Liberty. Results indicate that manufacturers have made dramatic improvements in how well their vehicles perform since the Institute first began frontal offset tests in 1995.

The integrity of the Freestyle's occupant compartment was maintained very well. There was minimal intrusion. Injury measures recorded on the dummy's neck, chest, and both legs were low. However, a high head acceleration occurred when the driver dummy's head bottomed out the airbag, indicating that a person in a similar crash could sustain a head injury such as a concussion.

"In the frontal test, the driver's side of the vehicle needs to absorb the energy of the crash and keep the occupant compartment intact," said Institute chief operating officer Adrian Lund. "The Freestyle's performance is what we like to see. A driver in a real-world crash of this severity would be likely to sustain only minor injuries. The Freestyle is a good performer and a 'best pick' in the frontal test."

Ford requested the test

It's unusual for the Institute to release crash test results for just one vehicle. Ford requested the Freestyle test, and the Institute's longstanding policy is to grant such requests if a manufacturer provides reimbursement for the cost of the vehicle.

When the Institute first evaluated mid-size SUVs in frontal tests in 1996 and 1997, none of the vehicles earned a good rating. Four designs were rated marginal or poor. In contrast, it's now rare for an SUV to earn a rating that's less than good.

"Ford has done a good job of designing its newest vehicles to better protect occupants in frontal crashes," Lund explained. Other recent good performers from Ford include the Five Hundred family sedan, F-150 pickup, and Freestar minivan.

 

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