Carmakers to reduce SUV threat

Automakers plan to continue modifying designs of their sport-utility vehicles to make them less hazardous to other motorists.

As the popularity of SUVs has grown in recent years, so have safety concerns. SUVs are considerably heavier than cars. They also have high hoods that cause more damage and injuries when striking cars from the side.

General Motors Corp. says it will lower the underbody steel rails in the 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada, GMC Envoy, and Chevrolet Blazer. That will reduce the risk that the vehicles would smash over cars' bumpers and doorsills. GM has already lowered rails in the Suburban and Tahoe.

On March 21, The New York Times reported similar moves by other firms:

DaimlerChrysler AG will alter the 2002 Dodge Durango's front end so it is less likely to override cars in collisions.

Ford Motor Co. will lower underbody rails of its Explorer, Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator. Ford already has installed a tubular steel beam on the Excursion to prevent it from riding over smaller cars.

The Toyota Sequoia will have impact-absorbing bars below the bumpers. Nissan, Honda, and Mitsubishi also have either made design changes or plan to.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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