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Safest rental cars

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  March 29, 2011 11:16 AM

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When we buy cars, most of us consider the relative safety ratings of models but few of us do when choosing a rental car. Perhaps we should. USA Today has looked closely at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety figures in an attempt to make the task easier.

The good news is that more than 95 percent of 167 different vehicles in rental fleets are rated "good'' in head-on collisions, the most frequent type of fatal crash. It turns out that there is, however, a good bit of difference in how cars do in side and rear wrecks and rollovers.

USA Today reports that a half dozen 2011 vehicles and one 2010 vehicle had "poor" side-impact crash ratings: Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Volkswagen's New Beetle, two-door Jeep Wrangler, GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado with a crew cab, and 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser. In rear-crash ratings, two 2011 vehicles — Cadillac STS and Lexus HS hybrid manufactured before 2010 — and three 2010 vehicles — Chrysler PT Cruiser, Infiniti M35, and Hummer H3 — got slapped with poor ratings.

The 2011 cars that earned top overall safety ratings include: Ford Fiesta, Honda Civic, the Mitsubishi Lancer, and the Subaru Impreza among the smaller cars; Ford Fusion, the Chrysler 200 and the Volkswagen Jetta for the midsize vehicles; and Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, and Buick Regal.

Want more details? Here's a chart.

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