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Honda CR-V

In recent frontal offset crash tests of four new or redesigned small sport utility vehicles, three earned the top crashworthiness rating. The 2002 Honda CR-V, 2003 Subaru Forester, and 2002 Saturn VUE are rated good overall. The CR-V and Forester also earned "best pick" designations. Another small SUV, the 2002 Land Rover Freelander (an older design that has been newly introduced in the U.S. market), is rated acceptable.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's ratings reflect performance in a 40 mph frontal offset crash test into a deformable barrier. Based on the results of this test, the Institute evaluates the crashworthiness of passenger vehicles, assigning each vehicle a rating of good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

"Before this set of tests, only the Hyundai Santa Fe and previous Forester design, among small SUVs, earned good overall crashworthiness ratings. Adding more small SUVs to those with good ratings is further proof that manufacturers are working to improve the performances of their new designs in offset tests. This will mean improved protection for people in serious real-world crashes," says Institute president Brian O'Neill.

In addition to the small SUVs with good ratings, four other current designs are rated acceptable and two are marginal.

Structural design is key to good performance: The CR-V, Forester, VUE, and Freelander all earned good ratings for structural performance in the offset test. The occupant compartments of these vehicles held up well, preserving the space around the driver dummy.

Honda CR-V improves compared with performance of 1998 model: The structural performance of the new CR-V was especially good compared with the previous CR-V design. There was very little intrusion into the occupant compartment of the new model, and all of the injury measures recorded on the dummy were good. In contrast, measures recorded on the dummy's head and left leg in the crash of the predecessor (1998) model indicated significant injury likelihood.

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