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CLICK & CLACK : The Scion? Still Skeptical

Sunday, March 20, 2005; Page G02

QDear Tom and Ray:

On your radio show recently, I heard you say you liked the [Toyota] Scion xB, but couldn't recommend it because it was missing some crucial safety features. Then I read this in an e-mail newsletter sent out by folk singers Pete and Maura Kennedy.

"Early Monday morning [Jan. 31], Pete and I had a serious auto accident. . . . There weren't any other cars on the road when all of a sudden, a car came speeding like mad up the same lane we were in (the middle). . . . The driver of the other car got right up behind us, jerked his steering wheel to the left to pass, and then jerked the wheel right again immediately after passing us. Unfortunately, he hit us on the way back into our lane. We were going 65, and we think he was going somewhere between 100 and 110 mph. We went flying into the median strip and started somersaulting. We rolled at least once on top of the guardrail. I think we're alive today because our car (Scion xB) has roll bars and state-of-the-art safety features. If it didn't, the car would have probably been sliced in two, and us with it. We were also both wearing our seat belts.

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"The air bags deployed, and we couldn't see anything outside the car as we rolled across the median strip. . . . When the car came to a stop, we found that we were still in the median. Our car had come to a rest upright. The other car was also in the median, still upside down, with at least two people trapped inside. The EMTs told us that there were no fatalities, but that the other carload [had]serious back injuries. . . . We're pretty exhausted now, as you can imagine, but we're okay, and very happy to be alive, the two of us! . . . -- Pete and Maura Kennedy" Thanks. -- Paul

A RAY: The reason we're not recommending the Scion xB yet is because it doesn't come with side-impact air bags. In the kind of accident these folks had -- a rollover -- the structure of the roof did its job, and kept the vehicle from collapsing around them. The seat belts (very important!) kept them in their seats, so the rest of the safety features -- such as the front air bags -- could also do their jobs.

TOM: But if they had been hit in the side by a fast-moving vehicle, or skidded and slid sideways into a tree or telephone pole, the intrusion into the side of the car could have killed them.

RAY: Since this vehicle is marketed to kids and young people, who tend to have lots of accidents, we think it's especially important that it have every reasonable safety feature available. And side air bags have been proven to save lives.

Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of The Post, or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk Web site at www.cartalk.com.

© 2005 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi

and Doug Berman

© 2005 The Washington Post Company