Two hard-working off-roaders just became safer for New Zealanders with five stars awarded to them by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.
All variants of the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Series plus all Mitsubishi Pajero options built from April this year now hold maximum Ancap safety ratings.
Another off-roader, China's Foton Tunland 4x4 dual cab utility vehicle, fell well short with a 3-star Ancap rating.
A production change for the Land Cruiser to include dual knee airbags as standard across the 200 Series range elevated its safety rating. Improvements to the Mitsubishi Pajero range ensured all vehicles built from this year will hold the maximum 5-star Ancap safety rating.
The Foton Tunland had a relatively poor crash test performance and lacks electronic stability control (ESC), a mandatory requirement for 5-star safety ratings from 2008 and for 4 stars from 2012.
New Zealand Automobile Association motoring services general manager Stella Stocks says the Land Cruiser and Pajero are popular choices for Kiwis and it is good news that motorists will be better protected in the upgraded models.
"It's disappointing to see that the Foton Tunland is coming here with such a low safety rating," says Stocks. "The Foton doesn't have ESC which is a real life saver, particularly in vehicles with a higher centre of gravity. There is no excuse for a new vehicle coming into the market today without this safety feature. The Tunland also only provides a lap belt in the centre rear seat. This doesn't offer as much protection as a three-point seat belt which is now generally expected as a standard feature for all passengers in new cars."
Stocks said the crash test demonstrated a high risk of significant lower leg injury for the driver.
Other vehicles in the same category as the Foton Tunland that have a 5-star Ancap safety rating are the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT50 and Holden Colorado.
The NZ Transport Agency's Celia Patrick says the results show the value of the independent Ancap system.
Safe vehicles, along with safe roads, speeds and drivers contribute to making all road users' journeys safe. The NZTA, the AA and other road safety partners want to see New Zealanders driving safe vehicles, and Ancap testing helps consumers make informed choices.
"This set of results gives consumers clear direction on what are and are not safer vehicle choices and helps consumers to play their part in making journeys safer for everyone," says Patrick.