IIHS Picks 66 Safest Cars

December 28, 2010, 10:39 AM HST · Updated December 28, 10:39 AM
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Photo Credit: delphi.com

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the “top safety pick” to 66 different vehicles, the most cars ever selected for the award.  The awards were given to vehicles of the 2011 model year.

For automakers, it is a sign their cars are meeting drivers’ standards.  The “top safety pick” distinction is a mark commonly used by automakers to advertise their brands’ attention to safety.  Last year, only 27 vehicles were selected for the award.

Hyundai and Kia Motors, two brands working in tandem, as well as Volkswagen and its subsidiary Audi, received nine awards each.  General Motors, Ford and Toyota rounded out the top five with eight awards each.

Subaru and Chrysler each took five awards.  Volvo and Mercedes managed to produce four of the safest cars while Nissan and Honda took home only two awards each.  Mitsubishi and BMW each received only one award.

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Big Winners for Some Brands

Hyundai’s eight awards means newly found respect for an automaker that is quickly growing around the world.  It’s Sonata, one of the cars recognized by the IIHS also won received five stars from US regulators.

Despite coming in sixth for the most awards, Subaru was the only competitor to win an award for every class in which it produces a vehicle.  The company won two awards in the mid-size cars category, and one each in the small car, mid-size SUV, and small SUV category.

For General Motors, the best of its eight victories comes in the Cruze.  The Cruze has been a bright spot in GM’s lineup and one of its best selling, small, fuel efficient vehicles.  Ford’s Fusion was also a winner.  Ford recently started advertising it’s Fusion as a competitor to Toyota’s mid-size offerings.

Toyota continues to struggle with the public who, after a series of high-profile recalls, have rejected its brand.  The company won eight awards, most of which were for its own branded Avalon, Corolla, Highlander and Venza.

Safety Methodology

The Institute determines the strength of each vehicles in a series of tests.  These tests include 40 mph frontal crashes including measurement of the movement of the passenger compartment, crash test dummy injuries, as well as an evaluation of seat belt performance.

Side crash tests at 31 miles per hour, a roof strength test, a rear crash performance evaluations and a single test of the seat belt all go into one algorithm.  The winners are declared after meeting certain standards designed for each class of automobile.

The requirements change with the weight and size of each class, and the tests are not meant to provide a comparison between two classifications.

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