Infiniti SUV Earns Top Safety Award

Jan 10, 2008, 00:00 ET from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

    ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The new Infiniti
 EX35, a luxury SUV, earns the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top
 Safety Pick award for 2008. The EX35 is the first Infiniti to earn this
 award. Top Safety Pick winners afford superior overall crash protection
 among the vehicles in their class. To qualify a vehicle must earn the
 highest rating of good in the Institute's front, side, and rear tests and
 be equipped with electronic stability control.
     "Criteria to win are tough because the award is intended to drive
 continued safety improvements such as top crash test ratings and rapid
 addition of electronic stability control, which is standard equipment on
 the EX35," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "Recognizing vehicles at
 the head of the class for safety helps consumers distinguish the best
 overall choices without having to sort through multiple test results."
     The number of vehicles earning Top Safety Pick is increasing. Only 13
 cars, minivans, and SUVs initially qualified for 2007 awards. At the
 beginning of the 2008 model year, the number of winners more than doubled
 to 34. As automakers introduce new models or make safety changes to
 existing ones, the Institute adds winners throughout the year.
     "The EX35 is a leader in its class for state-of-the-art safety," Lund
 says. "You don't know what kind of crash you're going to be in. That's why
 it's important to choose a vehicle that will protect you in all kinds of
 crashes. The Top Safety Pick designation is intended to help people find
 the safest choices."
     In 2007 the Institute made the criteria to earn the award tougher by
 adding a requirement that winners must be equipped with electronic
 stability control (ESC). This is based on Institute research indicating
 that ESC significantly reduces the risk of driver involvement in crashes in
 the first place. Known by different names and called Vehicle Dynamic
 Control on the EX35, ESC helps drivers maintain control in the worst
 situation -- loss of control at high speed -- by engaging automatically
 when it senses vehicle instability and helping to bring a vehicle back in
 the intended line of travel, often without the driver knowing anything is
 wrong. ESC lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half.
 It lowers the risk of a fatal rollover crash by as much as 80 percent.
     How vehicles are evaluated: The Institute's frontal crashworthiness
 evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each
 vehicle's overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the
 occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a Hybrid III dummy in the
 driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the
 restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.
     Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the
 side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier
 represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury
 measures recorded on two instrumented SID-IIs dummies, assessment of head
 protection countermeasures, and the vehicle's structural performance during
 the impact. Injury measures obtained from the two dummies, one in the
 driver seat and the other in the back seat behind the driver, are used to
 determine the likelihood that a driver and/or passenger in a similar
 real-world crash would sustain serious injury to various parts of the body.
 The movements and contacts of the dummies' heads during the test also are
 evaluated. Structural performance is based on measurements indicating the
 amount of B-pillar intrusion into the occupant compartment.
     Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure.
 Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry
 -- the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of
 the head of an average-size man. Seat/head restraints with good or
 acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures
 forces on the neck.

SOURCE Insurance Institute for Highway Safety