Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How Toyota Became a Safety Pacesetter

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How Toyota Became a Safety Pacesetter

Article excerpt

Toyota is no stranger to the safety ethos. As long ago as 1998, in the early days of the Euro NCAP crash tests, the classy Camry executive saloon achieved a four-star rating, ranking it alongside acknowledged safety leaders such as the Saab 9-5, Volvo S70, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class at that time. Only this year was its four-star performance surpassed in the executive sector.

The following year it was the turn of the Picnic people-carrier to be put under the microscope and it too came out with four stars with Euro NCAP reporting: "The Picnic gives good all-round crash protection and, even though it was one of the smaller MPVs tested, it ran a close second to the group leader, the Renault Espace."

That made Toyota's MPV one of the safest people-carriers and, again, it was only in new tests this year that the four-star level was exceeded in this sector.

More recently the Yaris `supermini' became the highest-scoring car in its class when it was tested in 2000 and only one rival has bettered its four-star crash-test performance since.

But the real jewel in Toyota's safety crown is the all-new Avensis, named Europe's safest mainstream family car after being subjected to Euro NCAP's tests earlier this year. It scored 34 points out of a possible 36 - the highest score recorded in Euro NCAP's testing. It was the icing on the cake for Toyota's new range of saloon, hatchback and estate models.

The new Avensis is light years ahead of the old model in build quality. It has a feeling of solidity and togetherness usually found in German makes.

With low insurance ratings - starting at 7E - and low servicing and parts costs, this latest Toyota, built in Derby, is a major competitor to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra and the five-star safety rating gives it an edge.

Safety has come high on Toyota's list for the new Avensis. …

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