WASHINGTON - Insurance industry safety officials say they expect newly redesigned vehicles to fare better in crash tests than earlier models. By that standard, the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Discovery did not do well in the latest round of offset testing.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, after crashing six new sport-utilities, said the Grand Cherokee got an overall 'marginal' rating, the same as 1996-98 models. The 1999 Discovery II was rated 'acceptable,' the same as 1994-98 Discoverys.
The institute, focusing on more positive results, applauded the 1999 Mercedes-Benz M class and the 1999 Lexus RX 300 for earning overall 'good' scores.
Institute President Brian O'Neill said, 'As a result of our test program and similar programs conducted in other countries, vehicle designs are being improved to prevent occupant compartment intrusion and preserve space for people to survive crashes.'
His remark did not apply to the 1999 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, which the institute rated 'poor.'
The sixth sport-utility tested, the 1999 Dodge Durango, was rated 'acceptable.'
The institute is the research arm of automobile insurers. It runs vehicles into an offset barrier at 40 mph and rates vehicles as good, acceptable, marginal or poor.