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Nearly One of Five New Cars Perform Poorly in Crash Tests

November 3, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A driver or passenger would have suffered serious head injuries or died in nearly one of every five new cars that the government tested in head-on crashes, according to test results released Monday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its results were based on 71 vehicles, all 1993 model designs, that underwent a 35-mph head-on crash into a barrier. Nearly three dozen more 1993 model cars will be tested in the coming months.

The tests showed that either the driver or front-seat passenger in 15 of the cars tested would have suffered life-threatening brain injuries as a result of the crash, despite use of a seat belt.

In 15 other cars tested, the driver would have escaped with no serious injuries, although in some of those cases the front-seat passengers might have suffered moderate injuries, the agency said.

The car with the worst crash test results was the two-door Oldsmobile Achieva, in which the driver would sustained a head impact causing almost certain death. Similar results were recorded in the Chevrolet Astro Van.

In each case, the driver test dummy recorded a head injury criteria (HIC) of more than 2,000, or twice the level at which an occupant has a high risk of sustaining serious brain injury or death.

The car with the best test results was the four-door Volvo 240 sedan with a driver-side air bag in which the driver recorded a HIC of 282. Four other air bag-equipped cars - the Pontiac Bonneville, Chevrolet Beretta, Dodge Daytona and Toyota Camry - recorded driver HIC numbers of less than 400.

The van with the best results was the air bag-equipped Dodge Caravan, which had a driver HIC number of 407.

The highway safety administration’s results reflected the impact to test dummies of a 35 mph head-on crash into a concrete barrier. The impact forces are equivalent to two cars, each going 35 mph, colliding head-on.

The agency said that 68 of the 71 tests actually were conducted on 1992 model cars, but that the results would stand for 1993 models because the vehicles had no significant change in design. The other three tests were on 1993 models.

The agency plans to test 34 other cars from the 1993 model line in the coming months, providing crash test results for a total of 105 vehicles being sold in the 1993 model year.

Here are the 15 cars with the best test results, followed by their HIC numbers: Volvo 240 (282), Chevrolet Beretta (343), Pontiac Bonneville (369), Toyota Camry (390), Dodge Daytona (399), Dodge Caravan (407), Nissan 240SX (407), Geo Storm (417), Cadillac DeVille (423), Ford Escort (434), Lincoln Town Car (471), Oldsmobile 88 (473), Ford Taurus (480), Ford Aerostar (485) and Chevrolet Corsica (493).

Here are the 15 cars with the worst test results, followed by their HIC numbers: Chevrolet AstroVan (2065), Oldsmobile Achieva (2021), Chevrolet SportsVan (1492), Dodge Ram Van (1392), Hyundai Elantra (1345), Isuzu Trooper (1219), Nissan Pathfinder (1211) Chevrolet S-10 pickup (1211 passenger), Chevrolet Lumina (1200), Volkswagen Passat (1182), Buick Century (1144 passenger), Chevrolet Caprice (1101), Saturn SL2 (1063 passenger), Mitsubishi Galant (1024), Dodge Dakota pickup (1005).

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