If you're worried about how your brand new, reasonably priced economy car would fare in something a little more intense than a fender bender, check out Forbes' list of the Least Safe cars of 2006. Included on the list are the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Optima, Mazda6 (!), Nissan Sentra, Suzuki Forenza and Toyota Corolla (!). Forbes has based its list on the criterion of failing two out of three Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests. All of these cars failed both their rear- and side-impact crash tests.
For comparison's sake we decided to look up the crash test ratings of each vehicle on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site to see how each fared in that organization's crash tests. The NHTSA only performs a front- and side-impact test, but no rear. Their results, however, were fairly inconsistent with those from the IIHS. Only the Sentra and Forenza did poorly in both tests.

It should be noted that the results Forbes quotes for the Toyota Corolla and Suzuki Forenza in the IIHS tests are for models not equipped with optional side curtain airbags, the inclusion of which would have surely improved their scores.

Also, the pic of the Elantra crash test is not meant to imply we think Hyundai?s small car is unsafe. The Elantra did well in the battery of NHTSA tests and comes standard with four air bags. It was just the best pic we could find.

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