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Tests: SUV minor crash means major repair bill

The Lexus RX 330 sustained average damage ranging from $789 to $988 in 5 mph crashes.
The Lexus RX 330 was among the vehicles tested.

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Low Speed Crash Results
2003 Honda Pilot
2004 Mitusbishi Endeavor
2003 Nissan Murano
2003 Lexus RX 330
2004 Chysler Pacifica
2003 Infiniti FX35
2004 Cadillac SRX
2003 Kia Sorento
Source: Insurance Insitute for Highway Safety
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ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) -- Sport utility vehicles boast rugged features to tackle the roughest terrain, but new crash tests suggest that some popular new models are not so tough in an ordinary fender-bender.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted low-speed tests on nine midsize SUV models and found that of them suffered expensive damage -- ranging from an average of $404 per test to $1,600 per test.

The Institute conducted four different 5 mile-per-hour crash tests -- front- and rear-end crashes into a flat barrier, front-end crashes into an angled barrier and a rear-end crash into a pole.

The Honda Pilot was rated "acceptable," the best rating out of the group. It had an average of $404 in damage in the four tests.

Three other vehicles -- Mitsubishi Endeavor, Nissan Murano and Lexus RX 330 -- were rated "marginal," sustaining an average of between $789 to $988.

Five other vehicles were rated "poor," with the average damage ranging from $1,200 to more than 1,600.

The Kia Sorento had the worst result in the group -- suffering an average of $1,646 in damage per test. It had to have its frame straightened after the front-angled crash, according to a statement from the Institute.

The Cadillac SRX was close behind, with an average of $1,644 in damage in the tests.

The Institute has conducted the tests on 33 models of SUVs and none received a "good" rating.

The group's chief operating officer, Adrian Lund, said in a release that the vehicles' bumpers were too "flimsy."

"Vehicles shouldn't sustain major damage in a minor collision at fast walking speed," he said.

The Institute said one reason for the poor showing is that manufacturers are focusing on style, not value.

The manufacturers told CNN that the tests only measure repair costs, not safety, and said that the vehicles meet or exceed federal safety standards.

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