Ford, General Motors Trucks Worst in Rollover Rating
By Alison Fitzgerald
Washington, June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.'s two-door Explorer sport-utility, F-150 four-wheel-drive pickup and Land Rover Discovery sport-utility and General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Avalanche sport-utility scored worst in the latest round of U.S. rollover ratings.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated each of those 2002-model trucks two stars out of five. Ford's Thunderbird car, General Motors' four-door Cadillac Deville sedan, Hyundai Motor Co.'s four-door Sonata car and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s two-door Eclipse car received the best five-star ranking. The U.S. agency assessed 32 cars and light trucks.
NHTSA uses a formula based a vehicle's center of gravity rather than conducting road tests. The ratings have been the focus of scrutiny in the past two years as the U.S. investigated fatal rollover accidents related to Firestone tires, most of them on Ford Explorers. Automakers contend that the ratings don't reflect the likelihood that a vehicle will roll over in a real accident.
``It's a mathematical calculation,'' said General Motors spokesman Jay Cooney of the rating on the world's largest automaker's Chevrolet Avalanche. ``The reality of the situation is this is a good vehicle with a very, very good safety record.''
Ford, the second-biggest automaker, didn't immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
Light trucks generally have a higher center of gravity than cars and tend to do worse in the rollover assessments.
Ford's F150 pickup with two-wheel drive, General Motors' Saturn Vue sport-utility, Nissan Motor Co.'s Frontier pickup, Mazda Motor Corp.'s MPV minivan and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Sequoia sport-utility each received a three-star rollover rating. No light truck were rated better than three stars.
The U.S. agency posted the latest results on its Web site. Associated Press reported the ratings yesterday.