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IIHS praises Cadillac XT5, Subaru Outback rear crash prevention

A new test program rates performance of rear autobrake systems in helping avoid common parking-lot accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has launched a new rating program that aims to gauge how well rear collision avoidance systems help avoid fender-benders.

The first round of tests focused on six 2017-model-year vehicles including the BMW 5 Series, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX60, Jeep Cherokee, Subaru Outback and Toyota Prius.

A three-tier rating scheme labels the systems 'superior,' 'advanced,' or 'basic,' with higher scores for vehicles that have available rear autobrake and, if so, how the braking system performs in various car-to-car and car-to-pole tests at different approach angles. Available parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert are also considered.

The Subaru Outback and Cadillac XT5 earned the highest rating of 'superior' when equipped with the full suite of rear collision avoidance systems, while the rest of the models barely received 'advanced' status.

"There were no surprises here," says IIHS chief research officer David Zuby. "The Subaru and GM results are in line with the crash reductions we have seen in real-world police report and insurance loss data."

The IIHS hopes its new rating system will encourage automakers to voluntarily implement rear autobrake as a standard feature on new cars. The system is said to be optional on only five percent and standard on less than one percent of 2018 vehicles.

Researchers separately ran demonstration tests to determine how parking accidents can create expensive repairs. When an XT5 without autobrake was backed into a pole at low speed, it required $3,477 in repairs. The Outback, meanwhile, backed into a Chevrolet Cruze and caused $1,899 in damage across both vehicles.