Steane Klose | Mar 31, 2008

We recently reported on the Nissan D40 Navara, which was handicapped in a 2007 ANCAP crash test due to incorrectly calibrated airbag software. The Navara has since been retested in Europe and fared better. Now ANCAP have released safety ratings for a number of locally available utility vehicles, including the Holden Commodore ute, the Mazda BT50 4x4, the Nissan Navara D40 4x4 and the Mahindra Pik-up.

Leading the results was the new VE Commodore based ute, which achieved a 4-star result and provides a range of standard safety features, including anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC).

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The Mazda BT50 gained a 3-star rating, the Nissan Navara was awarded a 3-star rating under ANCAP’s sister program EuroNCAP, and the Mahindra Pik-up rated 2 stars out of 5.

“We are seeing more and more 4 and 5-star vehicles on the Australian market these days, and we would expect that a utility vehicle should earn a 5-star rating in the near future. Manufacturers are building key safety technologies as standard features in many of their models – and while some utes are definitely safer than they were 5 years ago, more needs to be done,” said ANCAP Chair Lauchlan McIntosh.

The Mazda BT50 and the Ford Ranger are based on the same design and are expected to have similar crashworthiness. The frontal offset crash by ANCAP left the passenger compartment severely deformed, with the steering column, dashboard components and park brake lever presenting as potential sources of injury. It only gained a 3-star rating following the tests.

“Many are lacking in basic occupant protection, which is an occupational health and safety concern for drivers of these vehicles. Unfortunately these vehicles are also often purchased for family use.”

Nissan Australia advises that the latest 3-star rating from Europe applies to airbag-equipped models on sale in Australia, and that a service campaign is underway to upgrade the airbag software of models already in service. Despite the improved performance, ANCAP testing shows that there is still a high risk of serious injury with the retested vehicle.

The Mahindra Pik-Up, which only rated 2 stars, has minimal safety features and, despite the dual cab configuration that is popular with families, does not include top tether anchorages for child restraints. Under Australian regulations these are optional on this style of vehicle, which can be classified as commercial.

“Mahindra has advised ANCAP it will be providing driver and passenger airbags in 2008 models and the anchorages will be a standard design feature from 2009,” said Mr McIntosh.

In previous EURO NCAP testing, Mitsubishi’s Triton (L200) achieved a very reasonable 4 stars.

Pedestrian test ratings for the Commodore Ute and Mahindra Pik-Up were 1 star out of a possible 5.

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