Six midsize sedans sold in the United States fared poorly in bumper crash tests conducted by the insurance industry, with each averaging more than $US500 in repairs after crashes at 5mph (8km/h).

Associated Press (AP) said the 2004 Mitsubishi Galant [a newly redesigned US-built model] fared best, averaging $525 in repairs in each of four tests, according to results released on Sunday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2004 Chevrolet Malibu and the 2004 Acura TSX reportedly earned the group’s lowest rating, averaging more than $950 in damage in each of the four tests.

AP said new models of the [GM-Daewoo-built] Suzuki Verona, the Nissan Maxima and Honda’s Acura TL earned the agency’s second-worst rating, averaging between $613 and $731 in each of the four tests.

“These midsize models range from inexpensive to luxury, but all but one of them share bumpers that don’t bump,” Adrian Lund, the institute’s chief operating officer, told Associated Press.

AP said carmakers stress the tests aren’t related to vehicle safety, but they look closely at the institute’s results. General Motors is redesigning the Malibu’s bumper as a result of the tests, Lund reportedly said.

According to Associated Press, each of the institute’s four tests are conducted at a speed of 5mph to simulate low-speed crashes in a parking lot or in heavy traffic. The front bumper is crashed into a flat barrier and an angled barrier, and the rear bumper is crashed into a flat barrier and a pole. The institute tests new or redesigned vehicles as they go on the market for the public, AP noted.

The report said the Acura TSX [sold as the ‘European’ Honda Accord outside North America] had the costliest accident, sustaining $1,559 in damage when it crashed into a pole. Lund reportedly said the bumper failed to protect the boot and rear body panel, and the boot lid alone required $500 to straighten and finish.

According to Associated Press, Lund criticised some new designs in which bumpers are flush with the side of the vehicle.

“It’s terrible for consumers because it puts expensive sheet metal and safety components such as head lamps closer to the point of impact in a routine fender-bender,” Lund told AP.