Next to reliability and price, safety figures as one of the top reasons among auto buyers for choosing a vehicle. One of the premiere organizations for testing a vehicle’s safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just published it’s top picks for 2011. At Decisive and Decisive Latino, we thought our readers should know what vehicles are the safest on the market.
Sixty-six vehicles earned the Insurance IIHS's Top Safety Pick award for 2011, including 40 cars, 25 SUVs, and a minivan. Top Safety Pick recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests. Winners also must have available electronic stability control, 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.
Last year 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. At the beginning of the 2010 model year, only 27 vehicles qualified for the award, but the number grew to 58 as auto manufacturers reworked existing designs and introduced new models. Now another 10 vehicles join the winners' list for 2011. Two discontinued models drop off.
"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."
Front-runners: Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi each have nine winners for 201, including the Kia Optima (pictured) . Next in line with eight awards apiece are General Motors, including the buick Regal (pictued at top), Ford/Lincoln, and Toyota/Lexus/Scion. Subaru is the only manufacturer with a winner in all the vehicle classes in which it competes, earning five awards for 2011.
None of the small pickups the Institute has evaluated qualified for this year's award, and large pickups haven't yet been tested.
More than 12,000 people died in frontal crashes of passenger vehicles in 2009 in the United States, more than 6,000 died in side impacts, and more than 8,000 died in rollovers, many of which also involved a front or side impact.
Safety equipment is increasingly standard. Ninety-two percent of 2011 model cars, 94 percent of SUVs, and 56 percent of pickups have standard head and torso side airbags. Electronic stability control is standard on 92 percent of cars, 100 percent of SUVs, and 72 percent of pickups.
Here are the 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