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Highway safety institute releases SUV safety ratings

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NEWS 9 and CBS News

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the best and worst midsized sport utility vehicles in terms of safety for 2008.

The examinations tested front, side and rear crash safety.

The Top Safety Pick went to the 2009 Nissan Murano.

The 2008 Kia Sorento was the worst performer overall.

The side tests were designed to simulate the impact of a vehicle being struck by the front end of a pickup truck or SUV moving at 31 mph. In the side test, Jeep Wrangler was the worst performer. The Jeep Liberty also earned low, or poor, scores.

The Mazda CX-7 and CX-9 and the  Mitsubishi Endeavor, all 2008 models, earned good ratings for their protection in front and side crashes. They fell short of the Top Safety Pick standard  because of their lack of protection against neck injuries in rear end  collisions.

In particular, the agency said the Mitsubishi Endeavor's seat/head restraint combination was poor and the Mazda CX-7 and CX-9 were rated poor. The agency says whiplash is the most serious injury reported in 2 million insurance claims each year.

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