The redesigned 1996 Ford Taurus moved to the front of the class in crash safety tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group supported by the insurance industry. The Institute has crash-tested 16 four-door, midsize 1995-1996 model cars and included many of the most popular vehicles in its tests.
Except for the redesigned Taurus, earlier tests on 1995 models are also valid for their 1996 versions, the Institute says, because there were no engineering changes on the '96 models that would affect crash-test results. The Institute also tested the 1996 Toyota Avalon, which did not fare well, and applied these results to 1995 Avalons.
Since 1978, federal government tests have crashed cars at 35 mph head-on into rigid barriers, providing overall information on passenger-compartment safety plus special insights into restraint systems, which are placed under great stress in head-on collisions. The IIHS test, by contrast, is an offset crash test, involving vehicles traveling at 40 mph crashing at an angle into a "deformable" or collapsible barrier. These conditions, the Institute says, resemble those in many auto-to-auto accidents. They also place more stress on the passenger compartment of the passenger compartment than do the head-on crash tests.
The Institute's test of the 1996 Taurus and Avalon models was combined with prior tests of other popular midsize cars to produce these overall safety evaluations:
Overall Structure Restraints Injury Measures Head Bumper Head/ Chest Left Right Restraint Repair Neck Leg Leg Design Costs* RATING = GOOD Ford Taurus (1996) G G G G G G G P G Chevrolet Lumina G G G G G G G P M Ford Taurus (92-95) G G G A G G G P M Volvo 850 G A G G G G G G M RATING = ACCEPTABLE Toyota Camry A A G A G A G M M Subaru Legacy A A G G G P G M A Honda Accord A A G G G P A P A Mazda Millenia A M G G G P G P M RATING = MARGINAL Toyota Avalon M M G G G P A P P Saab 900 M P M G G G A A A RATING = POOR Ford Contour P M G G G P P M P Volkswagem Passat P M P G G P G P M Chevrolet Cavalier P P P A G P G P A Mitsubishi Galant P P P G G P A P P Chrysler Cirrus P P M G G P P P M Nissan Maxima P A P M G P P M P* Repair costs for damages from bumper collision tests at 5 mph. Some changes in design and parts prices may have occurred during the model years shown for these vehicles, effecting repair costs since the models were tested.