The BMW 3 Series and earned the silver 'Top Safety Pick' designation for good performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's front, side, and rear impact tests.
In the institute's frontal-crash test, vehicles strike a barrier on the driver's side at 40 mph. In the side-impact test, vehicles are struck with a barrier moving at 31 mph. The tests are run at a higher speed than tests mandated by the government, which all vehicles are required to pass before they can be legally sold.
The models tested most recently by the Institute include three moderately priced cars, , Hyundai Sonata, and Pontiac G6. The other four models are luxury/near luxury cars, Acura TSX, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G35 and Lexus IS.
The Ford Fusion, tested without its optional side airbags, earned the lowest overall ratings. It's the only car in this group that didn't earn a good rating in the frontal test. It earned a poor rating in the side test and a marginal rating for rear crash protection.
The test results also apply to the 2006 Mercury Milan, the Fusion's corporate twin.
A Ford spokesman told the Associated Press that side air bags and side curtain bags would be standard on 2007 models built after September. Ford has also requested additional frontal- and side-impact testing for a model with the air-bag option, which costs an additional $595.
Test results for the 2006 Pontiac with optional front and rear curtain air bags and front seat-mounted torso air bags received the second-highest score of acceptable. A G6 version without the side air bag package, an option which costs $695, received the lowest mark of poor. Both versions received top scores in frontal tests.
The institute said the showed improvement over previous versions, receiving the top score in frontal tests and the second-highest mark for side-impact tests. Sonata models built from 1995-1998 had received a poor in frontal protection and the 1999-2005 models received poor ratings in side crash protection.
Among the other newly tested vehicles, the 2006 Acura TSX and Infiniti G35 received the second-highest mark of acceptable in new side tests. Both had received top marks in previous frontal tests.