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:
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
The IIHS has put together a brochure to help make buying a new car easier.
You can watch video of these new tests here.