The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is set to debut a new testing procedure for the 2011 model year that will make it more difficult for new cars and trucks to earn the government agency's coveted five-star safety rating. Just as interestingly, the recent influx of electronic safety gadgets, such as lane departure and collision warning, will be included in the testing regiment as well.
NHTSA will calculate one simple-to-understand grade for each vehicle based on how it manages to perform throughout the agency's testing. While the revised parameters promise to make safety-minded comparison shopping between new automobiles a bit easier, it also means that pre-2011 ratings will not be directly comparable to the new ones.
A total of 55 new 2011 cars, trucks and minivans (including the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze seen above undergoing GM's internal safety testing) will be tested by NHTSA with the new procedures, and the list is made up of both brand new models and some of the more popular nameplates Americans seem most likely to purchase in large numbers next year. You can check out NHTSA's official release and the initial list of what cars will be subjected to this new testing regime after the jump.