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IIHS: Top Rated Vehicles for Front Crash Prevention Tech.

Byline: Phil Gusman, PropertyCasualty360.com

Seven of 74 car models examined earned superior ratings for front crash prevention systems, according to a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) test of technologies designed to help drivers avoid front-to-rear collisions.

In a "Status Report" on IIHS' website, Chief Research Officer David Zuby says, "Front crash prevention systems can add a thousand dollars or more to the cost of a new car. Our new ratings let consumers know which systems offer the most promise for the extra expense."

For its test, IIHS examined moderately priced and luxury midsize cars and SUVs with optional or standard front crash prevention systems, assigning ratings of "basic," "advanced" or "superior" depending on whether the vehicle offered autonomous braking (autobrake) and how effective the autobrake was at 12 miles per hour and 25 miles per hour. Autobrake, IIHS says, is designed to reduce vehicle speeds in a crash. Some systems, IIHS notes, "can slow down or completely stop the car to avoid some front-to-rear crashes if its driver doesn't brake or steer out of the way in response to a warning."

For a "basic" rating, IIHS says "a vehicle must have a forward collision warning system that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performance criteria"--meaning the system must "issue a warning before a specified time in five of seven test trials under three scenarios."

To earn an "advanced" rating, says IIHS, the vehicle must include autobrake and "avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in one of two tests."

For a "superior" rating, the vehicle must earn five or six points in IIHS' test (six points being the maximum). According to IIHS, as many as five points are awarded in the autobrake tests (up to two points in the 12 mph test, and up to three points in the 25 mph test) based on how much the systems slow the vehicle to avoid hitting an inflatable target, or lessen the severity of the impact. Vehicles then earn one point if they also have a forward collision warning system that meets NHTSA criteria.

Explaining the technology evaluated, IIHS says, "Front crash prevention is part of a larger group of crash avoidance features spreading through the U.S. vehicle fleet. Marketed under various trade names, system capabilities vary by manufacturer and model, and most are offered as optional add-ons. In general, current front crash prevention systems fall into two categories: forward collision warning and front crash mitigation or prevention with autobrake."

The seven vehicles earning "superior" ratings and six vehicles earning "advanced" ratings may be viewed no the following pages (with the crash prevention technology in parantheses).

The following vehciles earned a "surperior" rating

Subaru Outback (EyeSight), left, and Subaru Legacy (EyeSight), right

Both the Legacy and Outback received the maximum five points in the autobrake test, with the system reducing the vehicles' speed by the full 12 mph in the 12 mph test and by the full 25 mph in the 25 mph test. The vehicles earned an extra point each for having a forward collision warning system as well.

Cadillac ATS (Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Collision Preparation), left, and Cadillac SRX (Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Collision Preparation), right

The ATS earned the maximum 2 points in the 12 mph autobrake test, with the technology reducing the vehicles speed by the full 12 mph. In the 25 mph test, the ATS' speed was reduced by 15 mph, good for two out of three points. A forward collision warning system earned the ATS an additional point. IIHS notes that when the ATS is equipped only with Forward Collision Alert, the vehicle's rating drops to "basic."

Like the ATS, the SRX earned two points in both autobrake tests, but in the 25 mph test, the vehicle's speed was reduced by 19 mph. Also like the ATS, the SRX received an extra point for a forward collision warning system, and the vehicle's rating drops to "basic" when it is equipped only with Forward Collision Alert.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class (Distronic Plus and Pre-Safe Brake), left, and

The technology reduced the C-Class' speed by 11 mph in the 12 mph test (two points) and by 13 mph in the 25 mph test (two points). The C-Class received an additional point for having forward collision warning.

Volvo S60 (City Safety/Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection)

The vehicle was slowed by the full 12 mph in the 12 mph test and by 14 mph in the 25 mph test, good for four points. The S60 earns an extra point for having forward collision warning.

Volvo XC60 (City Safety/Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection)

Like the S60, the XC60 earned four out of five points in the autobrake test and received an extra point for having forward collision warning. But in the 25 mph test, the system slowed the vehicle by 11 mph rather than 14 mph.

When the two Volvo models were equipped only with City Safety, they were rated "advanced" rather than "superior." In the 25 mph test when only City Safety is equipped, the S60 was slowed by 2 mph and the XC60 was slowed by 1 mph.

The following vehicles earned an "advanced" rating

Acura MDX, 2014 models (Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Brake System)

The vehicle was slowed by 7 mph in the 12 mph test and by 6 mph in the 25 mph test, good for two points total, with an extra point added for a forward collision warning system. IIHS notes that when the MDX includes only Forward Collision Warning, the rating drops to "basic."

Audi A4 (Audi Pre Sense Front), left, and Audi Q5 (Audi Pre Sense Front), right

For both Audi models, the A4 and Q5, the vehicles were slowed by 2 mph in the 12 mph test and by 0 mph in the 25 mph test, good for two points total, with an extra point for including a forward collision warning system.

Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2014 models (Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation)

In the 12 mph test, the Grand Cherokee was slowed by 4 mph, and by 7 mph in the 25 mph test, for a total of one point. An extra point was awarded for including forward collision warning.

Lexus ES (Pre-Collision System)

The vehicle was slowed by 6 mph in the 12 mph test and by 4 mph in the 25 mph test, for a total of one point with an extra point for a forward collision warning system.

Mazda 6, 2014 models (Smart City Brake Support)

The vehicle was slowed by the full 12 mph in the 12 mph test, but by 0 mph in the 25 mph test, for a total of 2 points. The model does not have forward collision warning.
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Publication:Property and Casualty 360
Date:Sep 27, 2013
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