New Safety Rating For Cars

Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled a new way to test cars.

Originally, cars would have several ratings for each feature. Now, there is a single grade and it ranges between 1 and 5 stars. Out of 33 cars tested, only two received a 5-star rating.

Some people in Texoma were surprised at what cars performed the best.

"Safest car? I'm going to say the Prius," says one father, "because Jay Leno drives one!"

"Well, I'm going to say a heavier car," says a local farmer, "because when you are involved in a wreck, it's going to do less damage."

Only 2 cars had the highest 5 star grade and one is the Hyundai Sonata. A car that surprises some.

"The Hyundai Sonata? Alright!" exclaims Joseph Cameron, a Texoma father, "So the Koreans are making safe cars!"

"Well we are not surprised," says Monty Scheller, the Hyundai Sales Manager at Patterson Auto Center, "One of the big things for Hyundai is safety, fuel economy and along with a good looking design they have come out with, they really have a great car and safety is big for them."

For those consumers who didn't know about the Hyundai safety rating, Scheller says the company is working hard to change their image.

"They are trying to overcome that stigma they had in the past of being just an economical car," explains Scheller, "They have really come a long way in just the last several years."

Safety is also big for the other vehicle with the highest rating, the BMW 5 series.

"It's definitely a safe feeling car," says Chris Emery, the BMW Sales Manager at the Patterson Auto Center, "As you drive the car especially at highway speeds going 65-70 miles per hour, you actually have the feeling of confidence that you can let go of the steering wheel and the car does the rest."

It's features like those that helped both the BMW and Hyundai Sonata essentially ace the governments new safety tests, which not only account for male passengers, but now tests for woman and children as well.

"Their side impact crash has been revamped," explains Emery, "they're not only using the normal impact dummies of an adult make size, they're also going to a female and child size person in the impact. Then rating how they react when the car is hit to the side, which is a nice test to have."

The new tests, along with a single, simpler star rating helps some feel safe when putting their family in the car.

"I'd rather just know off the bat, is this going to be a safe car that I'm driving? Is my kid going to be safe? Is my wife going to be safe if we get hit? Are the airbags going to work?" asks Cameron.

Scheller agrees "having an overall rating just makes it a lot easier on the research for you, the consumer."

"Much more important than what happens to the car is what happens to the people inside," says Emery.

Yet out of 33 cars tested, only two had below 4 stars.

The Toyota Camry scored 3 stars and the Nissan Versa Compact car earned two stars.

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6