• Nov 18, 2009
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has once again announced the winners of its Top Safety Pick award – all 27 of them. This time out, 19 cars and eight SUVs made the all-important grade. To break it down a bit for you, Subaru is the only make to earn top marks in each of the classes in which it competes (four), winning a total of five awards. Ford and Volvo combined to take home six Top Safety Pick awards (the most of any automaker), VW/Audi comes away with five and Chrysler gets four. Added to this year's safe list in the small car segment are also two new competitors, the Nissan Cube and Kia Soul.
New for 2010 are more stringent rollover standards used in the evaluations by the IIHS, a tweak which is apparently responsible for keeping Toyota, the world's biggest automaker in terms of sales, from receiving a single award – even though last year, between Toyota, Lexus and Scion there were eleven winners. BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Saab were also absent from the list for the same reason, as the was the Ford Fusion. The Toyota Camry, meanwhile, didn't make the cut because of a marginal rear crash rating. All 27 winners – and a full press release – can be found after the jump.



[Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]



Large cars

Buick LaCrosse
Ford Taurus
Lincoln MKS
Volvo S80

Midsize cars
Audi A3
Chevrolet Malibu built after October 2009
Chrysler Sebring 4-door with optional electronic stability control
Dodge Avenger with optional electronic stability control
Mercedes C class
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Passat sedan
Volvo C30

Small cars
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Soul
Nissan Cube
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door

Midsize SUVs
Dodge Journey
Subaru Tribeca
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs
Honda Element
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan


PRESS RELEASE:

27 winners of 2010 Top Safety Pick award;
new requirement to win is good rating for protection in rollovers

ARLINGTON, VA - Nineteen cars and 8 SUVs earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award for 2010. For the first time, good performance in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover is required to win. Top Safety Pick recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rear, and now rollover crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests. Winners also must have electronic stability control, which research shows significantly reduces crash risk. This is the second time the Institute has tightened criteria since announcing the first recipients in 2005.

Subaru is the only manufacturer with a winner in all 4 vehicle classes in which it competes. This automaker earns 5 awards for 2010. Ford and subsidiary Volvo have 6 winners, and Volkswagen/Audi has 5. Chrysler earns 4 awards, continuing a recent trend of improving the crashworthiness of its vehicles. Two new small cars, the Nissan Cube and Kia Soul, join the Top Safety Pick list for 2010.

"With the addition of our new roof strength evaluation, our crash test results now cover all 4 of the most common kinds of crashes," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "Consumers can use this list to zero in on the vehicles that are on the top rung for safety."

Good rollover ratings: A new requirement for strong roofs winnows the list of Top Safety Pick winners from a record 94 in 2009. The addition of this criterion recognizes manufacturers with vehicles that provide good protection in rollovers, which kill more than 9,000 people in passenger vehicles each year. The first rollover ratings were released in March. Vehicles rated good have roofs more than twice as strong as the current federal standard requires. The Institute estimates that such roofs reduce the risk of serious and fatal injury in single-vehicle rollovers by about 50 percent compared with roofs meeting the minimum requirement.

"Cars and SUVs that win Top Safety Pick are designs that go far beyond minimum federal safety standards," Lund points out.

Missing the mark: Not a single model from the world's biggest automaker by sales is represented among this year's winners. Toyota and its Lexus and Scion subsidiaries had a strong showing in 2009 with 11 winners but were shut out for 2010. Four other manufacturers whose vehicles have earned Top Safety Pick in the past didn't have a qualifying vehicle for 2010: BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Saab. The Honda Accord picked up the award the past 2 years, but the 2010 didn't earn the required good roof strength rating to qualify (the roof is rated acceptable). The Ford Fusion is another midsize car that dropped off the list for the same reason.

"Honda and Ford would have to make only minor changes to achieve good ratings for roof strength, as the Accord and Fusion just missed the mark," Lund explains.

The midsize Toyota Camry would have qualified with good ratings, except for its rear crash evaluation. This car's seats and head restraints are rated marginal for protection against whiplash injury. A change to good would have earned the Camry a Top Safety Pick for 2010. Other automakers have improved head restraints to win. For example, inadequate head restraints kept earlier Chrysler models from earning awards, but in 2010 the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger and Journey, and Jeep Patriot all earn good ratings and Top Safety Pick. Likewise, General Motors upgraded the seats and head restraints in the Chevrolet Malibu to win.

Volvo glitch: The Institute identified a problem with the Volvo XC60 in the side test. A piece of plastic trim on the driver seat pushed against a service release button for the safety belt, which then detached from its anchor during the test.

"This would be a serious issue if it happened in a real crash, but it's not likely to happen and it's fixable," Lund explains. "Still, belts shouldn't come loose in a crash test. Volvo is fixing the problem so it won't be an issue with XC60 models produced after November 2009. Top Safety Pick applies only to these modified XC60s."

Consumers who own 2010 XC60s already on the road should see their Volvo dealer for repairs, Lund advises.

Improved protection: Front and side impacts and rollovers killed 24,056 passenger vehicle occupants in 2008. Rear-end crashes usually aren't fatal but result in a large proportion of crash injuries. Neck sprain or strain is the most commonly reported injury in two-thirds of insurance claims for injuries in all kinds of crashes.

"In safety terms, we've come very far, very fast in just the past decade," Lund says. "When the Institute began conducting frontal tests for consumer information in 1995, few vehicles earned top ratings. Now almost all do. Most cars failed the side tests we added in 2003. Test results in that initial round were so bad we nearly broke our budget for repairing the crash test dummy, but now most vehicles ace the side test thanks to side airbags and stronger side structures. Factor in improved head restraints to protect against whiplash and electronic stability control to prevent crashes, and consumers are the clear winners."

Safety equipment is increasingly standard. Ninety-two percent of 2010 model cars, 99 percent of SUVs, and 66 percent of pickup trucks have standard side airbags with head protection. Electronic stability control is standard on 85 percent of cars, 100 percent of SUVs, and 62 percent of pickups.

"Now that roof strength is a priority, we think manufacturers will move quickly to bolster roofs to do well in our roof strength test. This means consumers likely will have more Top Safety Pick choices for 2011," Lund predicts.

Keep in mind vehicle size and weight, he adds, because larger, heavier vehicles generally afford better protection in serious crashes than smaller, lighter ones. Even with a Top Safety Pick, a small car isn't as crashworthy as a bigger one.

The Institute awarded the first Top Safety Pick winners to 2006 models and then raised the bar the next year by requiring good rear test results and electronic stability control as either standard or optional equipment. Early this year the Institute alerted auto manufacturers to the new criteria for roof crush and asked them to nominate candidates for testing.

How vehicles are evaluated: The Institute's frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle's overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a Hybrid III dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on 2 instrumented SID-IIs dummies representing a 5th percentile woman, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle's structural performance during the impact.

Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry - the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seat/head restraints with good or acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. Seats without good or acceptable geometry are rated poor overall because they can't be positioned to protect many people.

In the roof strength test, a metal plate is pushed against 1 side of a roof at a constant speed. To earn a good rating for rollover protection, the roof must withstand a force of 4 times the vehicle's weight before reaching 5 inches of crush. This is called a strength-to-weight ratio. For an acceptable rating, the minimum required strength-to-weight ratio is 3.25. A marginal rating value is 2.5. Anything lower than that is rated poor.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 46 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Congrats to all!
      • 5 Years Ago
      So let me get this straight:

      VW/Audi did not get the same across the board recommendation as Subaru because the IIHS did not test the following cars at all or for rollover:

      - Audi A6
      - Audi Q7
      - Audi A8
      - VW Touareg
      - VW CC
      - VW Eos

      oh, and the new beetle is an now ancient POS that was rated "good" when it came out but is no longer "good".
      • 5 Years Ago
      What about the Genesis sedan? that thing is a tank. Just look at the Youtube videos.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't get those that are complaining about the new standards. Or saying that cars that were top picks last year aren't anymore because of new standards. Are you saying we shouldn't improve the standards for safety?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes. I would say exactly that. Driving will never be truly safe. There will always be deaths and injuries. The regulations that are in place are already enough to keep true death traps out of the showrooms. I would argue that they're already too much. By adding more "safety" equipment to cars, we're making them heavier, more expensive, and more deadly to whatever they run in to. We may save a few more lives of people inside those cars, but we probably also sacrifice a few more from pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and even occupants of buildings. Kinetic energy is proportional to mass. Putting more energy in an idiot's hands gives him the ability to do more damage when he loses control of it.

        The only way the roads will ever really be safer is through driver training. We have to stop giving licenses to anyone that asks for one. We're putting many lives in the hands of someone when we give him a license. We should start making sure our drivers are well educated and have appropriate respect for that power to kill.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This goes to show that the car manufactures design their cars just to meet these tests, they change the test slightly and the results are very different. If you truly want a safe car you buy a Volvo, Audi or a Mercedes. Nothing against Japanese cars because they are fantastically dependable but they aren't built with the same strength as European luxury cars. I have an '03 Camry with 70,000 miles and a '98 Volvo S70 with 210,000 miles, even with the age and massively more miles the Volvo feels solid and safe where the Camry feels like a tin can.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "This goes to show that the car manufactures design their cars just to meet these tests, they change the test slightly and the results are very different. "

        Exactly, and the poster child for that is Honda/Acura. Every Acura model was a Top Safety Pick last year, but none qualified this year because of the new roof strength test. Yes, I know they haven't been tested, but the IIHS gave every manufacturer an opportunity to have their models tested, which Acura would have jumped on if they expected to pass. I think Acura willl quickly modify the cars to pass the test because Acura's stated safety objective is to get good crash tests results.

        It was a similar situation when the IIHS introduced the rear test in 2004. Every Acura failed initially, but things changed dramatically within 2-3 years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So why not Ford or Lincoln? Or Subaru for that matter? Feel is a terrible thing to determine "safety" on. I am not saying I don't agree with you with regards to the marques you mentioned but Fifth Gear tested the theory of "solid" vs "new and well-engineered" and crashed an old school Volvo station wagon into a new European hatchback (I think it was a Renault). I would much rather have been in the Renault. Safety is good; the myth/perception of safety is bad.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The issue I have with the new roof standard is it adds more weight up high which reduces performance and fuel economy and can potentially add to the ability of a vehicle to roll over.
        • 5 Years Ago
        iBran: "Alternatively, if they're smart, they'll re-engineer the roof using a blend of steel and lightweight alloys and/or aluminuim, and pass the test with flying colours."

        If they're smart, they did all that before the new laws. If they didn't already use that kind of construction, I can assure you it's not because they hadn't thought of it. It's because they had cost constraints. If they can strengthen the roof without adding cost or weight, then they left a lot on the table in the initial design and probably shouldn't or don't have their jobs anymore.

        Most cars WILL get heavier up top, because they ARE designed to be cost competitive in their segments. That doesn't mean the manufacturer is stupid.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Depends how the manufacturer implements it. If they're cheap and lazy, they will reinforce the existing roof with enough steel to meet the testing standards. And yes, this will have a negative impact on balance, efficiency, and possibly even aesthetics. But it's a quick fix and it lets the marketing team make claims that the car is "safe".

        Alternatively, if they're smart, they'll re-engineer the roof using a blend of steel and lightweight alloys and/or aluminuim, and pass the test with flying colours.

        Which manufacturers use which process is for you to debate.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Strength isn't necessarily due to more material being added - bends in strategic locations can greatly increase the strength without adding weight. Even a lot of the styling creases in the side panels of cars helps provide strength in a way that is appropriate for the panel - it might not be enough to prevent a door ding, but it keeps the mostly flat panel from flapping in the wind while cruising at 60 mph.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice Quote:

      "In safety terms, we've come very far, very fast in just the past decade," Lund says. "When the Institute began conducting frontal tests for consumer information in 1995, few vehicles earned top ratings. Now almost all do. Most cars failed the side tests we added in 2003. Test results in that initial round were so bad we nearly broke our budget for repairing the crash test dummy, but now most vehicles ace the side test thanks to side airbags and stronger side structures. Factor in improved head restraints to protect against whiplash and electronic stability control to prevent crashes, and consumers are the clear winners."
      • 5 Years Ago
      1. Volvo is still Volvo. I hope ford don't sell volvo to China.
      2. No toyota/lexus? hmm.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The author of this post failed to mention that not all of the vehicles kicked off the Top Safety Pick list were kicked off because they failed the new roof strength tests. Most were kicked off because they have not yet been tested.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Where did you get that information? Thanks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        True as it goes, but most weren't tested because the manufacturer told the IIHS they didn't think those cars would get a Good in the test.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good news for Chrysler along with the all the other manufacturers
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting, so some people will get the impression that their one year old car that might have been 5 star/highly recommended under last years standards is now a burning deathtrap from hell that is putting them and their family's lives in danger. Oh well, time to trade in. I guess there's more then one way to stimulate the economy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The IIHS is a group formed by insurance companies, not by the car companies and not by the government. They have no reason to get people to buy new cars. They'll insure whatever you want to buy, they just need to know how much to charge, so they study the safety of existing vehicles."

        Actually, that's not true! As a formerly licensed insurance underwriter in 47 of our 50 fine United States, new cars have the same risk as old cars but demand a much higher premium from inurance companies. The same mathematical equation of profit is added to a 10 year old car and a 0 year old car. Thus, if the policy is more expensive, the profit is bigger

        That is why when you try to insure a classic car, they can't do it in most insurance companies because they don't have adjustable tiers or "ACV" Appraised Cash Value options.

        So they do make more money on new cars! Of course, that's not every single insurance company on the planet or in the country for that matter, but it is a standard equation most of the time. The new car insurance premiums also include the "All New Car" that they can't truly know how much will cost to fix. (i.e. Genesis, Taurus, GTR)

        Hope this info is useful...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ugh, the Nissan Cube.

        Puke in my mouth.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yep... because I have a more powerful engine... it makes the Civic Si and Impreza WRX not safe, whereas their more pedestrian counterparts are top picks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The IIHS is a group formed by insurance companies, not by the car companies and not by the government. They have no reason to get people to buy new cars. They'll insure whatever you want to buy, they just need to know how much to charge, so they study the safety of existing vehicles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Randy, you claim to be an insurance underwriter and this is the best answer you can give? I am also in the insurance business for over 15 years and "why not"s" answer is a little more accurate than yours. It does cost more to repair new vehicles than old but 2 other factors were not mentioned:

        1. New cars have a lot more safety equipment meaming potential injuries are reduced and this keeps your liability premiums lower than they could be. (although it seems that more people are claiming injuries nonetheless, but that is a different story.)
        2. Many old car drivers choose not to insure them for damage, only for liability so this in turn makes newer cars more expensive to insure.

        Your comment that it is just a profit adjustment makes me believe that you have some sort of vendetta against insurance companies rather than speaking the truth that premiums are based on years of statistics.

        • 5 Years Ago
        No different than ADAC moving the goalposts out from under Geely...
      • 5 Years Ago
      The SebringAvenger may be ugly but they are quite safe.
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