PhotoMore bad news for the slow-selling Fiat 500: federal safety regulators have given it a three-star rating, the lowest of any new model tested so far.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the two-door  four stars for frontal crash and rollover accidents but just two stars for side-impact crash safety.

The tests gave the car a combined overall safety rating of three stars, NHTSA reported.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had earlier named the car a "Top Safety Pick."

PhotoNHTSA's side-impact crash tests involve both an impact with a side barrier and a stationary pole in a 38.5 mph simulated intersection-type crash. Though the vehicles tested had curtain airbags and torso/pelvis airbags, the rear-seat passenger position was rated at just two of five possible stars for safety in the side-barrier crash test, while the driver's seat position achieved a five-star safety rating in the same crash test.

In the side-pole crash, which simulates an impact at 20 mph with a narrow, fixed object, the driver's position achieved a three-star rating out of a possible five stars, NHSTA reported.

"Development of the Fiat 500, like all Chrysler Group LLC vehicles, makes safety and security a priority," Chrysler said in a prepared statement. "In fact, the Fiat 500 features more than 35 safety and security features including: driver and front-passenger advanced multi-stage air bags, driver's knee air bag, full-length side-curtain air bags and standard seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax air bags, all to offer enhanced occupant protection to all occupants in the event of a collision."


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