- The Washington Times - Friday, November 27, 2009

The Chevrolet Malibu has been named the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick, a distinction denied the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, which compete in the same midsize-sedan segment.

The award recognizes “good” ratings in four simulated crashes - front, side, rear and rollover - and the inclusion of StabiliTrak electronic stability control.

“The Top Safety Pick award helps car buyers zero in on the vehicles that are on the top rung for safety,” IIHS President Adrian Lund said. “The Malibu has state-of-the-art crash protection and electronic stability control that can help drivers avoid crashes altogether.”

The selection of Malibu as a top safety pick is significant because this is the first time the institute required a “good” rating in a roof-strength test, a measure to help determine protection in a rollover crash, an accident responsible for 9,000 highway deaths a year.

“Building on a comprehensive package of standard active and passive safety features, we engineered extra roof strength in the 2010 Malibu,” said Brent Dewar, vice president of Global Chevrolet. “Customers continue to tell us that safety is a top consideration in a new-vehicle purchase, and we are listening.”

In the roof-strength test, a metal plate is pushed against one side of a roof at a constant speed. To earn a good rating for rollover protection, the roof must withstand a force of four times the vehicle’s weight before reaching five inches of crush. This is called a strength-to-weight ratio.

“Good” ratings in front and side crash tests and rear impact as well as electronic stability control were the other criteria used to select the 27 vehicles that received Top Safety Pick for 2010, compared with 94 in 2009. The Institute told automakers in January that it was adding the rollover test.

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 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 are based on injury measures recorded on two instrumented dummies, an assessment of head protection and the vehicle’s structural performance during the impact.

Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure involving 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 for forces on the neck in a simulated collision, in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. Malibus built after October 2009 received a “good” rating in rear crash protection, allowing the top safety pick designation.

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