Consumer Reports magazine has rated the 1979 Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon "acceptable," noting that the cars have improved from last year when alleged steering problems had caused the magazine to label the subcompacts "not acceptable."
When the magazine rated the cars last year, it was the first time in several years that the non-profit Consumers Union publication had rated American cars so poorly. The cars' manufactuerr, The Chrysler Corp., contended at the time tha the testing process leading to CU's conclusion was invalid.
In an article in its April edition, entitled "How they fixed the Omni/Horizon," Consumer Reports said of its test vehicles, "it is evident, then, that our 1979 cars are changed from the 1978s. Their tendency to oscillate has been reduced. Among the most noticeable changes is increased friction, or damping, in the steering system."
Last year, Consumer's Union alleged that when the cars were made to swerve from side to side at high speeds, they would go out of control, while other cars would return back to a straight path.
Chrysler called the test unfair, and said that most front-wheel-drive cars would handle the same way. Chrysler also contended no motorist would attempt the stunt CU had used as a stest of handling.
CU states in the article, however, that the cars still rate poor to fair in accident-avoidance ability.