The 2008 BMW 5 Series was the worst performer in side-impact crash tests of luxury sedans by the US insurance industry.
The Acura RL, Kia Amanti and Volvo S80 all earned the highest safety rating from the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, results released yesterday showed.
The Cadillac STS and Mercedes E-Class earned the second-highest rating.
The tests were designed to show what would happen if a truck or sport utility vehicle (SUV) hit the side of the sedan at 50kph, the speed of a serious crash. Side-impact crashes are the most common type of fatal crash after a frontal crash, the institute said.
"Growing sales of SUVs and pickups have exacerbated height mismatches among passenger vehicles, thereby increasing the risks to occupants of many vehicles struck in the side," institute president Adrian Lund said in a news release.
All six sedans were equipped with standard side air bags.
The Kia Amanti was one of the lowest priced sedans in the group, with a starting price of about US$25,500, but it offered more protection than more expensive entries.
The BMW 5 Series starts at US$43,500, while the Mercedes E-Class starts at US$50,550, said Edmunds.com, an automotive research site.
"The Amanti shows that you don't have to buy an expensive car to get good protection in crashes with SUVs and pickups," Lund said.
All of the sedans tested were 2007 models except the 5 Series, which was redesigned for 2008, institute spokesman Russ Rader said.