The redesigned 2009 Nissan Murano has earned a Top Safety Pick rating among 10 midsize SUVs crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Murano was the only SUV to get a Top Safety Pick honor by scoring Good in all three crash tests. (Results in front, side and rear crash tests by IIHS are rated as Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor.) The 2008 Mazda CX-7 and Mazda CX-9, as well as the 2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor, fell short of the Top Safety Pick rating, IIHS says, because head-rest protection in rear crash tests was rated Marginal in the Mazdas and Poor in the Mitsubishi.
Though many would classify the Murano, CX-7 and CX-9 as crossovers, IIHS classifies them as SUVs.
The Kia Sorento was the only vehicle to get the lowest rating, Poor, in side-impact tests, even with its standard side airbags. The Jeep Liberty, Dodge Nitro and four-door Jeep Wrangler were rated Marginal in side crash tests; the Wrangler was rated Marginal in its rear crash test. The Hummer H3 was rated Acceptable in both front and side crashes, but Poor in rear crashes, as were the Endeavor, Liberty and Nitro.
The good news, IIHS says, is that in those same tests in 2001, half of the models failed to get a Good rating in front crash tests, but this year only one, the H3, missed getting a Good rating. It rated Acceptable.
The other good news is that all the models offer standard electronic stability control. IIHS won't award any vehicle a Top Safety Pick rating without having that system, which prevents under- or oversteer and reduces the chance of slip-sliding or skidding.
While IIHS ratings provide another tidbit of safety information, they are also self-serving for the insurance industry. The higher the safety rating, the lower the cost to repair a vehicle (or care for an occupant) after an accident, and IIHS comprises insurance companies that pay motorists for their vehicles. Naturally, the safer cars are, the less insurers pay.