DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes M-Class and Toyota's Lexus RX 300 beat out four other mid-size sport-utility vehicles in 40-mph crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said. Mitsubishi Motors' Montero Sport was rated "poor." The 1999 Mercedes M-Class and the Lexus RX 300 received "good" overall ratings in the group's most recent tests, while BMW's Land Rover Discovery Series II and DaimlerChrysler's Dodge Durango were "acceptable." DaimlerChrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee was "marginal." A safe image for SUVs and other light trucks is increasingly important to auto makers because they now account for about half of the 15 million vehicles sold annually in the U.S. In earlier tests, the Toyota 4-Runner was rated "good," and Ford's Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer were "average." Mitsubishi's standard Montero, which is about 250 pounds heavier than the Sport model, also was "average." Nissan's Pathfinder and Infiniti QX4 were rated "marginal," and General Motors' Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Blazer were "poor" in the earlier tests.
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