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Smashing Success: Experts Encouraged by Crash Test Results on Mid-Size Luxury Vehicles

Aired May 31, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Mid-size luxury cars don't come cheap, but test results released today suggest the old saying is true: You get what you pay for. Experts say they are encouraged by the results of crash tests on five mid-size luxury vehicles.

CNN Detroit bureau chief Ed Garsten with more now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED GARSTEN, CNN DETROIT BUREAU CHIEF (voice over): That's what happens when a BMW 328i crashes 40 miles an hour into a barrier. It looks bad, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the BMW had the highest score among the five mid-size luxury cars it tested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The occupant compartment held its shape together very well. The injury measures recorded on the dummy were low. This was a very good performing vehicle.

GARSTEN: The Volvo S80 also performed well, except for one problem with its air bags.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Specifically, we were concerned about hot gases very close to where a driver would be holding the steering wheel, and we were also concerned because the air bags are deployed in a low-severity crash.

GARSTEN: Volvo says it couldn't duplicate those problems in five tests it carried out, but that design changes will be made.

WALTER SHAPIRO, DIRECTOR OF SAFETY, VOLVO: What we have decided to do was make very minor modifications. One is to the algorithm of how the frontal air bags deploy, and also we have slightly changed the vent holes of the air bag.

GARSTEN: Nevertheless, the Volvo S80, along with the BMW 3 Series and the Cadillac Catera all earned good ratings overall, while the Saab 9-5 and Audi A6 were rated acceptable, mainly because the crash-test dummies indicated passengers would suffer slightly more injuries.

The cars tested cost between just under $27,000 to almost $49,000. One body shop owner says the cost to repair them after a 40- mile-an-hour crash is considerable. UNIDENTIFIED BODY SHOP OWNER: You're probably talking $6,000 on up if, depending if it's a head-on or if it's a side-on an angle.

GARSTEN: But the institute says it's heartened by the results of this latest round of tests because they show the cars, not the occupants, are absorbing the energy of the crashes.

Ed Garsten, CNN, Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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