Posted by: David Kiley on November 25, 2008
Ford Motor Co. got another shot in the arm from Tuesday when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported the automaker had more vehicles than any other manufacturer on itss list of safest vehicles sold today.
Seventy-two cars, trucks and SUVs received the top safety pick designation for 2009, more than double the number of vehicles in the 2008 model year and three times the number in 2007. The jump is due primarily to automakers increasing anti-rollover technology in more vehicles.
The top-rated vehicles are the best in protecting people in front, side and rear crash tests based on institute evaluations during the year. The vehicles are required to have electronic stability control, or ESC, to qualify for the award. IIHS said electronic stability control is now standard on virtually all new SUVs and three-quarters of passenger cars for the 2009 model year. ESC is also standard on more than one-third of 2009 pickups.
Ford’s list of top-rated vehicles included Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize cars with optional ESC; the Ford F-150 pickup, Ford Edge and Ford Flex midsize sport utility vehicles; and the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner small SUVs. The list also included the Mazda Tribute, which has the same underpinnings as the Escape and Mariner. Ford’s Volvo vehicles also made the list.
Honda and its Acura unit had vehicles in nearly every category, including top-sellers such as the Honda Accord; the Honda Civic 4-door with optional ESC; and the Acura MDX and RDX midsize SUVs; and the Honda Fit with optional ESC. The Fit is the first mini-car to earn the safety award.
General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. both had eight vehicles on the list. GM’s included the Cadillac CTS and the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook large SUVs. Toyota’s top performers were the Toyota Corolla with optional ESC, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra and Scion xB.
Electronic stability control senses when a driver may lose control and automatically applies brakes to individual wheels to keep the vehicle stable and avoid a rollover. It helps motorists avoid skidding across icy or slick roads or keep control when swerving to avoid an unexpected object in the road. The absence of the technology became a focal point of lawsuits filed against Ford in the 1990s and early 2000s when tires were blowing on Ford Explorers, often causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle before a crash.
IIHS said Chrysler LLC was the only major automaker that did not receive a single award. They said Chrysler could have picked up five awards if the head restraints had been improved in the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring, the Sebring convertible and the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country.
The report comes at an opportune time for Ford, which, along with GM and Chrysler, is asking Congress for bailout loans. Many members of Congress, as well as pundits and critics, have been lambasting Detroit automakers for the last several weeks for failing to stay competitive with Asian automakers.