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CNN Today

SUVs Fail Low-Speed Crash Tests

Aired September 13, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: With rough-and-ready names like Trooper, Rodeo and Xterra, sport utility vehicles cultivated a tough, adventurous image to surge in popularity. Today, a new report tarnishes that image. A nonprofit research group says it conducted low-speed crash tests with five SUVs, four of them failed.

CNN Detroit bureau chief Ed Garsten with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED GARSTEN, CNN DETROIT BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): So much for the word "rugged" connected to sport utility vehicles. This is what happened to a 2000 Isuzu Trooper in a crash test at just five miles an hour, performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Total repair bill after a series of four such low-speed tests: over $11,000.

BRIAN O'NEILL, PRES., IIHS: That's an average of over $2,700 per test. In the five-mile-an-hour rear to pole test, it allowed over $3,300 worth of damage. This vehicle has terrible bumpers. In fact, we've never seen a vehicle with worse bumpers.

GARSTEN: While the Trooper was the worst performing SUV of the five tested, the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero, 2000 Isuzu Rodeo and 2000 Nissan Xterra also performed poorly. The 2001 BMW X5 is the champ with a total of just under $2,200 damage for the four tests, some consolation for its $50,000 sticker price.

But the X5's performance wasn't flawless. It sustained $949 in damage in the front-into-angle barrier test. Overall, though, the institute says disappointing results for the five SUVs. Neither Isuzu nor Mitsubishi has offered a comment.

(on camera): If the bumpers in a passenger car performed this poorly, the federal government wouldn't allow the car to be sold. That is because passenger car bumpers must meet minimum federal standards for absorbing energy in slow-speed crash tests. But there are no such standards for bumpers on sport utility vehicles.

(voice-over): At five miles an hour, the institute says there are no inherent safety concerns, but the organization is calling on automakers to bolster SUV bumpers to reduce repair costs, which would, in turn, reduce the cost of insurance. Ed Garsten, CNN, Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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