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Several popular midsize SUVs receive low ratings for rear seat safety

A new crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that several midsize SUV models received poor ratings in rear-seat safety.

Of the 13 midsize SUV models evaluated, all earned good marks for driver safety, the IIHS said Tuesday.

However, six of the 13 scored in the poor category for rear-seat safety, the IIHS said.

“Most of the midsize SUVs we evaluated need a lot of work to improve safety for the rear seat position,” Raul Arbelez, vice president of the IIHS Vehicle Research Center, told CBS News.

Those six are the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler 4-Door, Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Murano.

“We just saw injuries, injury measurements on dummies, which were very high on the chest,” Arbelez said. “High level of head and neck forces.”

Arbelaz explained that car models have not become less safe over the years, but that testing has become more stringent.

“I wouldn’t say any of these vehicles have become less safe,” Arbelez said. “We continue to move the goalposts and create more challenging tests that we feel inform consumers about which vehicles are the safest.”

The test simulated a 40 mph front-end crash. For the new test, the IIHS added a test dummy — about 12 years old — in the back seat. The IIHS found that the risk of fatal injury is 46% higher in the back seat than in the front, where advanced restraint technology is more available.

Four of the 13 SUVs received good ratings for backseat safety: Ford Explorer, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Subaru Ascent and Tesla Model Y. Three others received marginal ratings: Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade association that represents several vehicle manufacturers, provided the following statement to CBS News in response to the IIHS report on Tuesday:

“Safety is the auto industry’s top priority. Vehicles continue to become safer as automakers across the board test, develop and integrate promising new technologies to help prevent crashes and protect passengers in the event of an accident. While innovations continue to make the driving experience safer, seatbelts and seatbelts Reminder systems are an important safety feature in today’s vehicles, and we encourage all passengers to ensure they are wearing a seat belt on every trip.”

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Chris Van Cleve


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