The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded 66 vehicles with its 2011 Top Safety Pick. The winners included 40 cars, 25 SUVs, and a minivan. In addition to receiving good ratings in Institute tests on front, side, rollover, and rear crash protection, winners must also have electronic stability control available, a crash avoidance feature that significantly reduces crash risk.
The ratings help consumers pick vehicles that offer a higher level of protection than federal safety standards require.
In 2009, the Institute toughened criteria for Top Safety Pick by adding a requirement that all qualifiers must earn a good rating for performance in a roof strength test to assess protection in a rollover crash. The move sharply narrowed the initial field of 2010 winners.
"In just a year, automakers have more than doubled the number of vehicles that meet the criteria for Top Safety Pick," according to 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."
The Institute groups Top Safety Pick winners according to vehicle type and size. Lund advises consumers to keep in mind that size and weight influence crashworthiness. Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford better occupant protection in serious crashes than smaller, lighter ones.
ALL 66 WINNERS (red indicates newly-announced winners for 2011)
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