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Two sedans get top crash test ratings

Audi and Infiniti luxury sedans perform well in front and side crash tests by Insurance Institute.

July 17, 2005; Posted: 11:21 p.m. EDT (0321 GMT)

By Julie Vallese, CNN Newsource Consumer Correspondent

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(CNN) - The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave two large luxury cars its top safety ratings in front and side impact crash test results released Sunday.

The 2005 Audi A6 was rated a "Double best pick" while the 2006 Infiniti M35 was rated a "Best pick" for front crash performance and a "Good" performer in side impact crashes.

"Audi and Infiniti are ahead of many of their competitors in side-impact protection," IIHS chief operating officer Adrian Lund said in a written statement. "They engineered the new models to do well in both of the Institute's tests, and they want to get the results out more quickly to demonstrate to buyers their cars' state-of-the-art crashworthiness."

Both manufacturers requested the tests by the Institute, which typically grants such requests as long as the manufacturers reimburse the Institute for the cost of the vehicle.

The IIHS buys the vehicles it crash tests from retail auto dealers to ensure that it is testing typical vehicles.

In the side-impact test, a barrier shaped to simulate the front end of a pickup or SUV crashes at 35 mph into the driver's side of the vehicle being tested.

Tests on the Audi A6, which comes with standard side-impact air bags, showed that the air bags and the structure of the vehicle protected occupants extremely well, the IIHS said.

The Infiniti M35 has side-impact air bags as well, but there was some indication from the force measurements on the dummy that an occupant's torso could have sustained injuries in a similar side-impact crash. The structure of the vehicle was rated "Acceptable," not the highest possible rating of "Good," which kept the M35 from being named a "Best pick."

"The institute's side-impact test mimics a real-world crash in which a pickup or SUV runs a red light or stop sign and strikes a vehicle in the side," Lund said. "The A6's double best-pick performance, especially, is the kind we hope to see every time we test a vehicle."

In the frontal crash test, a vehicle crashes into a deformable barrier at 40 mph. Both the Audi and Infiniti were rated "Good" and a "Best pick" for frontal crashes.

Under the IIHS rating system, a vehicle can be rated "Poor," "Marginal," "Acceptable" or "Good." If a vehicle is deemed especially safe, it receives a "Best-pick" rating. The highest rating of "Good" means a driver would walk away from a crash with minor injuries, if any.

Only four vehicles have earned the "Double best pick" rating from the Institute: Audi A4, Audi A6, the Saab 9-3 and the Toyota RAV4 with optional side airbags.

Later this year, the institute plans to test 11 additional large luxury models in side impact tests.

How to understand IIHS and U.S. government crash test results

Audi A6 details and photos

Infiniti M35 details and photos

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