Thieves Like Jeeps Too
According to an annual study conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), auto theft rates in the U.S. are on the rise for the first time in 10 years. And interestingly enough, the Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee is the fifth most commonly stolen vehicle. It doesn't stop there, either. Earning a spot in the Top Five meant that theft of the Cherokee line consistently ranked high across the U.S., achieving a No. 1 spot in none other than Detroit. The Jeep ranked second in Denver and Tucson, third in Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, and Baltimore, fourth in New Orleans, Boston, and Jersey City, fifth in Atlanta, sixth in New York, seventh in Miami and Seattle, eighth in St. Louis and San Francisco, and tenth in Dallas. As it turns out, Los Angeles was one of the safest places for Jeep Cherokees/Grand Cherokees, where just one American brand, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, made the Top Ten.
Auto theft throughout the states increased by 1.2 percent from 1999 to 2000, with 1.7 million cars reported stolen. Robert Bryant, President of the non-profit NICB, said the increase could be attributed to the declining U.S. economy, the reassignment of police officers to other responsibilities, and porous international borders. Other commonly stolen four-wheel drives included the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet fullsize C/K pickups, though no other SUVs or trucks made the list. For a complete listing of the most commonly stolen vehicles, check out www.nicb.org.
Explorer Scores High And Low In Crash Tests
In the latest series of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer, which share the same design, earned a Best Pick designation for how it held up after crashing into a deformable barrier at 40 mph. The Insurance Institute rates vehicles as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on injury measurements on crash dummies, analysis of how the restraint system controlled dummy movement, and how well the occupant compartment held up. The Explorer and Acura MDX were the only SUVs among the 11 tested this year to earn the Best Pick designation. None received a poor evaluation, however, the '02 Jeep Liberty got a marginal rating after the airbag inflated late because a sensor wire shorted out early in the crash. As a result, DaimlerChrysler has recalled 120,000 of these vehicles.
The Explorer, along with the Jeep Liberty, also ranked on the low end among some of the tests. The low-speed crash is designed to check the ability of a vehicle's bumpers to protect it from frame and body damage, and not intended to rate passenger safety. For the most part, they determine how much you're going to get hit in the pocketbook after someone slams you in the rear at 5 mph. Adrian Lund, chief operating officer for the Insurance Institute, called the Liberty and Explorer shortcoming, "disheartening," and added that, "Making a strong bumper isn't a great engineering feat."
The Jeep Liberty fared worst of all in the low-speed crash test that called for backing into a flat barrier at the vehicular equivalent of a slow jog. As a result, the Liberty's spare tire pushed into the tailgate, causing extensive sheetmetal damage, shattering the rear window, and damaging the rear windshield washer motor. The repair bill or the single crash totaled $1,719. Damage to the Explorer totaled $5,432 in the four 5-mph crashes.