Small 2-door vehicles get good marks

WASHINGTON --- Small in stature, a group of 2009 two-door cars is providing good safety value to car shoppers, according to crash tests released Tuesday.

The Ford Focus and the Volvo C30 received top scores of "good" in front-end, side and rear crash tests, according to tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Two-door versions of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Honda Civic received top scores in front-end tests and the second-highest rating, "acceptable," in side tests. The Civic received the top score in the rear test, but the Cobalt has not yet been tested for rear crash protection.

The Scion tC, which is manufactured by Toyota Motor Corp., rated acceptable in both the front-end and side tests. It received the second-lowest rating of "marginal" in the rear crash test.

The institute decided to test the two-door cars because they are frequently asked how the small vehicles perform in crash tests, said David Zuby, the institute's senior vice president for vehicle research. He called the overall results good news.

Mr. Zuby said all the vehicles tested were equipped with side air bags that protect the motorist's head. He said the side test results were strong, "considering how demanding the side test is."

"It simulates being struck by a pickup or SUV," Mr. Zuby said.

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