July 18, 2005

Large Luxury Cars Get Top Ratings in Crash Tests

DETROIT -- Two large luxury cars, the 2005 model Audi A6 and 2006 Infiniti M35, have received top ratings in crash tests conducted by a vehicle safety watchdog group with links to the insurance industry.

The Audi A6 from Volkswagen AG's luxury division got "good" ratings and "best pick" designations for its performance in both front- and side-impact tests, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It said the Infiniti M35, from Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., also earned good ratings in both tests but a "best pick" designation only for its crashworthiness in the front-impact test.

In the side-impact test there were indications that the driver of an M35 could sustain torso injuries and the structural performance of the vehicle was deemed "acceptable" but not "good," the Insurance Institute said.

The 31-mile-per-hour side-impact test simulates a real-world crash in which a pickup truck or sport utility vehicle runs a red light or stop sign and plows into the side of a car.

The Institute's so-called offset frontal test measures how well a vehicle can absorb the impact of a crash when 40 percent of its front end strikes a barrier at 40 miles per hour.

Tests on the A6 and M35 were conducted with both equipped with standard front and rear head curtain airbags and front seat-mounted torso airbags.