The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named 66 vehicles to its Top Safety Picks for 2011 list. The Top Safety Pick awards recognize vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover and rear crashes. Vehicles named Top Safety Picks have to earn a "good" rating in all these tests. Other ratings include acceptable, marginal and poor.
Top Safety Pick vehicles also must have available electronic stability control. For 2011, 40 cars, 25 SUVs and one minivan earned the accolade. Last year, the IIHS made it harder to earn a Top Safety Pick award by requiring that all qualifying vehicles earn a good rating for performance in a roof strength test to assess protection in a rollover crash. None of the small pickups the IIHS tested qualified for this year’s award, and large pickups haven’t been tested yet.
"In just a year, automakers have more than doubled the number of vehicles that meet the criteria for Top Safety Pick," says Adrian Lund, the Institute’s president. "That gives consumers shopping for a safer new car or SUV – from economy to luxury models – plenty of choices to consider in most dealer showrooms. In fact, every major automaker has at least one winning model this year."
For 2011, Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi each have nine vehicles on the Top Safety Picks list.
The IIHS says that 92 percent of 2011 model-year cars, 94 percent of SUVs and 56 percent of pickup trucks have standard head and torso side airbags. Electronic stability control is standard on 92 percent of cars, 100 percent of SUVs, and 72 percent of pickup trucks.
2011 IIHS Top Safety Pick Winners:
BMW 5 series (except 4-wheel drive and V8)
Cadillac CTS sedan
Infiniti M37/M56 (except M56x 4-wheel drive)
Mercedes E class coupe
Mercedes E class sedan
Audi A4 sedan
Chrysler 200 4-door
Mercedes C class
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Forte sedan
Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (except 4-wheel drive)
Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback (except WRX)
Volkswagen Golf 4-door
Volkswagen GTI 4-door
Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback built after July 2010
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento built after March 2010
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags