The Lancer is the first Mitsubishi to win the top safety designation since the institute implemented the new rollover test.
The Top Safety Pick award recognizes vehicles that earn the highest rating for front, side, rollover, and rear crash protection. Award-winning vehicles also must have electronic stability control, which is standard on the Lancer.
Based on research of real-world crashes, the institute evaluates rollover protection using a roof strength test. In this test, a metal plate is pushed against one corner of a vehicle's roof at a constant speed. The maximum force sustained by the roof before five inches of crush is compared to the vehicle's weight to find the strength-to-weight ratio. This is a good assessment of vehicle structural protection in rollover crashes, IIHS said.
Vehicles rated "good" have roofs that can withstand a force equal to at least four times the vehicle's weight. For comparison, the current federal standard is 1.5 times weight.