Ford to request new test with side airbags
"The Fusion is a disappointment because it's a brand new design," said Institute president Adrian Lund. "Ford has done a good job with some other recent models, but the Fusion is at the back of the pack among midsize cars for overall safety performance." In addition to the side impact and rear crash tests, the Fusion is one of just two sedans (Dodge Stratus/Chrysler Sebring) that did not earn the Institute’s highest rating for frontal offset crash protection. But it’s the side test where the Fusion failed to protect occupants most, however: According to the Institute, the driver dummy inside the Fusion without side airbags recorded serious head injuries, rib fractures and the likelihood of a fractured pelvis.
In an e-mail, Ford safety spokesperson Daniel Jarvis indicated that Ford will ask the IIHS to test another Fusion with side airbags and side curtain airbags “We expect (the Fusion) will earn higher test ratings with that standard equipment,” wrote Jarvis. Jarvis also noted that the Fusion meets all Federal Motor vehicle safety standards, and that later this year, Ford will offer the Fusion with side airbags and air curtains as standard equipment.
As per their policy, the Institute conducted the test without side airbags because currently, they are offered only as optional equipment on the Fusion. "Usually when an automaker doesn't ask for the optional test, we presume it means the side airbags wouldn't help much to improve the car's rating," said Lund. "But now that Ford has requested a second test, so the Fusion with side airbags may earn a better rating than poor.”
In the Institute’s frontal offset test, the Fusion gained a rating of “Acceptable,” and Lund said that while that was not a bad result, it was “not competitive with other cars in its class.”
"Nearly every car now earns good ratings in our frontal test," said Lund. "Based on this car's side and rear evaluations along with its acceptable frontal rating, the Fusion is the lowest rated moderately priced midsize car we've evaluated."
The Institute’s testing covers Fusion sedans built after January, 2006. According to Lund, at that time a structure was added below the accelerator pedal in order to reduce injury risk to the right leg and foot in frontal offset crashes. It didn’t work. “Forces recorded on the dummy's right leg were high, and a metal pin broke in the dummy's ankle,” said Lund. “Ford is doing more research to find a solution and has indicated it will ask the Institute to retest the Fusion for frontal crash performance later this year."
Lund pointed out that the side structure of the Fusion held up reasonably well in the crash test, and that the car’s structural rating of “acceptable” was better than some other midsize models tested by the Institute. Another positive, according to Lund, included “reasonably good” protection in the rear seat. The head of the dummy in the rear seat struck the pillar behind the rear door, an area required by federal standard to provide protection for an occupant's head.