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Monday, 24 November 2014 03:57

Chrysler, Nissan minivans earn 'dire' crash test results, says IIHS [w/video]

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2015 Toyota Sienna

First introduced in 2012, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small-overlap frontal crash test has become the bane of many auto engineers' existence. It's a particularly steep design challenge because it forces just 25 percent of a vehicle's front end to take the brunt of a 40-mile-per-hour impact. The newly released results of four family-minded minivans underscore just how difficult the crash test is: only one scored an Acceptable rating, and the other three did very poorly.

The 2008-2015 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, plus the 2011-2015 Nissan Quest, all received Poor ratings in the test, the IIHS' lowest possible score. The three of them showed significant crash intrusion into the driver's area. The dummy in the Nissan actually had to be cut out of the vehicle, with an IIHS spokesperson remarking, "the structure collapsed like a house of cards." In the Fiat Chrysler Automobile vans, the steering wheels moved out of the way, making the airbag less effective and letting the driver's head hit the dashboard. While it was not actually crashed, the agency is also giving the 2009-12 Volkswagen Routan a Poor score because it shares a structure with the FCA models.

The newly released results of four minivans underscore just how difficult the small-offset crash test is.

The refreshed 2015 Toyota Sienna (shown), conversely, earned an Acceptable rating and is also a Top Safety Pick+ because of its optional forward collision warning and automatic braking system. While the crash test dummy moved around during the impact more than the agency would have liked, sensors showed a low risk of injuries.

The IIHS tested the Honda Odyssey last year, and it earned a Good overall score, the agency's best ranking. It's also a Top Safety Pick+ vehicle. The only member of the minivan segment left to test is the latest Kia Sedona, and the Institute is reportedly waiting a little longer for Kia to make changes to improve the model's performance.

When reached for comment, Nissan spokesperson Steve Yaeger provided Autoblog with the following statement:

"Nissan is committed to vehicle safety and believes that consumers should have information about crash protection so they can make educated buying decisions. Nissan is proud of the 2014 Quest's "good" rating in the IIHS front moderate overlap and side impact tests as well as a "good" head restraint rating.

As for the performance of the 2014 Quest in the 'small overlap frontal test,' Nissan will continue to review these and other results from IIHS testing as we seek opportunities for improvements."

Chrysler Group also provided us with the following statement:

"No single test determines overall vehicle safety. Chrysler Group minivans meet or exceed all government-mandated safety requirements. They are unchanged, structurally, from previous model-year vehicles that received the highest performance ratings bestowed by the IIHS in tests simulating the four main crash types - side, rollover, rear and moderate-overlap front."

Scroll down to see graphic video of the tests for yourself and read the IIHS' announcement.

Continue reading Chrysler, Nissan minivans earn 'dire' crash test results, says IIHS [w/video]

Chrysler, Nissan minivans earn 'dire' crash test results, says IIHS [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Jay Leno gifts army vet Challenger Hellcat on Today Show

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Jay Leno, The Today Show, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Jay Leno, besides being a grade-A car guy, is also a pretty standup American. The late-night host has been a fixture on USO tours, visiting troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan. His latest move, though, is a step beyond even a trip to a war zone.

After teaming with Al Roker's Shine A Light campaign, which raises money for the USO, Leno sought out a worthy serviceman or woman to receive a special gift. After choosing from a pool, Cpl. Ethan Laberge was selected, at random, to meet with Leno and go for a spin in the world's most powerful muscle car, the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Cpl. Laberge was seriously wounded after shrapnel from an Afghani suicide bomber sliced through his left leg and arm. On top of that, the blast left the US Army corporal with a traumatic brain injury, and he's since gone through more surgeries than anyone should be forced to endure. Yet, he still suffers from lingering pain.

Leno met with the young soldier, and the two had lunch and went for a spin. Not a bad deal, but it was only going to get better for Cpl. Laberge. Take a look at the video, straight from a segment on NBC's The Today Show.

Continue reading Jay Leno gifts army vet Challenger Hellcat on Today Show

Jay Leno gifts army vet Challenger Hellcat on Today Show originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dodge SRT Performance Pages: Autoblog Technology of the Year finalist

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Performance Pages shown on Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Dodge dropped a 707-horsepower bomb on us this year, by way of the supercharged, 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 engine found under the hood of the 2015 Challenger coupe and Charger sedan. That's an absolute ton of power, and no matter how well-heeled a driver you may be, these Hellcat models demand respect in order to be tamed. But don't worry, Dodge has your back. Enter, the SRT Performance Pages.

Built into the cars' Uconnect infotainment system - itself a recipient of the Technology of the Year award in 2012 - Performance Pages are standard equipment on SRT-badged products. Here, drivers can see performance data like 0-60 and quarter-mile times and can keep an eye on engine vitals, as well as monitor the G-forces they're throwing down. They can even review lap times at a track.

Hellcat models take things a step further, with the ability to control the output of the engine, and manage things like suspension setup, traction control, and even the use of the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles on vehicles equipped with the automatic transmission. What's more, Hellcats are sold with two key fobs - one red, one black. The red key automatically unlocks all 707 hp from the big V8, while the black key hushes that fury to a still-impressive 500 hp. Beyond that, the Hellcat's Performance Pages feature a Valet Mode that locks out several of the Uconnect system's functions and further limits the engine's output to 300 hp.

During our Technology of the Year testing in Petoskey, we looked at aspects of the Performance Pages including intuitiveness of layout, control response time, breadth of options, and so on. The verdict? SRT Performance Pages offer all the functionality a serious driver would want, and are incredibly simple to navigate and understand. And as enthusiasts, we applaud technology that allows us to get the most out of any serious performer - even ones with absolutely insane power.

Dodge SRT Performance Pages: Autoblog Technology of the Year finalist originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Graveyard Carz - Mopar Reality TV Show

Graveyard Carz is now on Velocity! All new reality TV show...All Mopar! For more details visit the Graveyard Carz website.


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