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Saturn Tweaks Vue Airbags, Now Tops Side-Impact Tests

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Crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are so important to gaining sales that automakers will tweak an existing design to get a top rating. That’s exactly what Saturn did after its new Vue SUV earned just an Average rating — the second best — in side-impact crash tests conducted by IIHS. To get a top rating of Good, Saturn redesigned its side curtain airbags to protect the heads of rear passengers. After the change, it passed a subsequent test.

Interestingly enough, in the original test there were no injuries even though the airbags didn’t deploy accurately enough. The redesigned airbags will be installed in all Vues produced after December 2007, or from January 2008 on. You can find the build date of a Saturn Vue on a sticker on the driver’s door jam, near the tire ratings. Dealers should also be able to find the build date on the vehicle’s invoice.

With these changes, the 2008 Saturn Vue gets the IIHS’ highest honor as a Top Safety Pick.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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