Safe ex­pec­ta­tions

If only Aus­tralians drove as well as their new cars crashed

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@cars­

IT’S get­ting ever harder to in­jure your­self in Aus­tralia’s favourite class of car.

Toy­ota’s new RAV4 is the lat­est com­pact SUV to get the max­i­mum crash safety rat­ing from the Aus­tralian New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram. It joins a grow­ing list of five-star soft­road­ers in­clud­ing the Subaru Forester, Mit­subishi Out­lander, Mazda CX-5 and Ford’s Kuga.

The RAV4— a four-star car when last tested in 2006— has dual front, side and cur­tain airbags, as well as a driver’s knee airbag as stan­dard. Also on the safety features list are seat belt re­minders for all seat­ing po­si­tions and some of the top­spec models have adap­tive front lights, blind spot warn­ing sys­tem and re­vers­ing cam­era.

AN­CAP boss Ni­cholas Clarke says strong Toy­ota sales mean the al­ready high per­cent­age of five-star SUVs on the road will in­crease. ‘‘ More mo­torists will be driv­ing in fives­tar safety,’’ he says.

The re­sults, from crash tests per­formed on a Euro­pean-built left-hand drive RAV4, scored 89 per cent for adult pro­tec­tion, 82 per cent for child oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion and 66 per cent for pedes­trian im­pact pro­tec­tion.

All was not per­fect. The driver’s airbag ‘‘ was not suf­fi­ciently well in­flated to pre­vent the dummy’s head from flat­ten­ing the airbag and mak­ing con­tact, through the airbag ma­te­rial, with the steer­ing wheel’’.

The report said the re­sult­ing con­tact was not haz­ardous but ‘‘ the car was pe­nalised and pro­tec­tion of the head area was rated as ad­e­quate’’.

Two veter­ans at the other end of the SUV seg­ment also gained full marks. Toy­ota’s Land Cruiser and Mit­subishi’s Pa­jero were up­graded to five stars af­ter equip­ment and trim up­grades.

A change in stan­dard equip­ment in the Land Cruiser 200 Se­ries added dual front knee airbags across the range— pre­vi­ously avail­able on top-spec models only. Mit­subishi’s Pa­jero models built from next month will rank as five-star SUVs due to trim and equip­ment up­grades— it has pas­sen­ger seat belt alert and there is ad­di­tional en­ergy-ab­sorb­ing ma­te­rial on the un­der­side of the steer­ing col­umn.

Crunch time: Toy­ota’s RAV4 adds a fifth star to its AN­CAP tally

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