Mid-size cars improve in crash tests

WASHINGTON Thanks to side air bags that are now standard and improved designs, cars in the latest crash tests do much better than those four years ago.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives top scores in front-end and side-impact crashes to the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura, Dodge Avenger, Nissan Altima, Infiniti G35 and Mitsubishi Galant. The 2008 Kia Optima received the highest score in front-end tests and the second-highest score in the side test.

The Institute says 10 similar vehicles tested in 2004 without side air bags received the lowest rating of "poor" in the side tests.

In rear-end testing, the results were mixed. The Optima was the only vehicle tested to receive a top rating.

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