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66 cars named Top Safety Picks for 2011

66 cars named Top Safety Picks for 2011

Credit: AP

by Terri Gruca

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE


Posted on December 23, 2010 at 7:53 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 23 at 3:34 PM

There are some surprises in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s latest list of top safety picks for 2011.

This year 66 vehicles earned that honor which is a huge improvement over last year. It's significant because last year the criteria was strengthened to require a good rating for performance in a roof strength test.

For years the tests by the IIHS have looked at crash worthiness in side impact crashes, front and back crashes and electronic stability control systems which can keep SUVs, trucks and vans from flipping. However in 2010 was the first year cars were evaluated for roof strength.

"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 the first time Ford’s newly redesigned Explorer earned the Top Safety Pick. In fact in 2010 many of the Ford models lacked the required roof strength and that kept them off the list. The Ford Fiesta is the only minicar to earn Top Safety Pick honors this year.

Here are the frontrunners:

Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi each have 9 winners for 2011. Next in line with 8 awards apiece are General Motors, Ford/Lincoln, and Toyota/Lexus/Scion. Subaru is the only manufacturer with a winner in all the vehicle classes in which it competes. Subaru earns 5 awards for 2011.

And here is the list of all 66 winners:

(those in bold are newly-announced winners for 2011)

Large cars
Buick LaCrosse
Buick Regal
BMW 5 series (except 4-wheel drive and V8)
Cadillac CTS sedan
Ford Taurus
Hyundai Genesis
Infiniti M37/M56 (except M56x 4-wheel drive)
Lincoln MKS
Mercedes E class coupe
Mercedes E class sedan
Toyota Avalon
Volvo S80

Midsize cars
Audi A3
Audi A4 sedan
Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler 200 4-door
Dodge Avenger
Ford Fusion
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Lincoln MKZ
Mercedes C class
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
Volvo C30

Small cars
Chevrolet Cruze
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Forte sedan
Kia Soul
Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (except 4-wheel drive)
Nissan Cube
Scion tC
Scion xB
Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback (except WRX)
Toyota Corolla
Volkswagen Golf 4-door
Volkswagen GTI 4-door

Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback built after July 2010

Toyota Sienna

Large SUV
Volkswagen Touareg

Midsize SUVs
Audi Q5
Cadillac SRX
Chevrolet Equinox
Dodge Journey
Ford Explorer
Ford Flex
GMC Terrain
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento built after March 2010
Lexus RX
Lincoln MKT
Mercedes GLK
Subaru Tribeca
Toyota Highlander
Toyota Venza
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs
Honda Element
Hyundai Tucson
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
Kia Sportage
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

The IIHS has put together a brochure to help make buying a new car easier.

You can watch video of these new tests here.