The last check mark any Top Pick needs is a top score in roof strength testing. Top Safety Picks need a roof that can withstand the pressure of four times the overall vehicle weight, and the IIHS says that the A6 can withstand 4.9 times its weight, while the Passat can withstand 6.3 times its weight. Hit the jump to read over the IIHS press release.
The Audi A6, a large luxury car, and Volkswagen Passat, a midsize moderately priced car, earn the Institute's top safety accolade following good performance for roof strength in rollover crashes. The award recognizes vehicles that earn the top rating of good for front, side, rollover, and rear crash protection, and that have electronic stability control (ESC). Both of these cars are redesigned for the 2012 model year.
In the Institute's roof strength evaluation, the roof of the A6 withstood a force equal to 4.9 times the car's weight. The roof of the Passat withstood a force equal to 6.3 times the car's weight. The test assesses how well the occupant compartment would hold up in a rollover crash. Vehicles with a strength-to-weight ratio of 4 or higher earn a good rating. By comparison, the current federal standard is 1.5 times weight. Institute research demonstrates that occupants of vehicles with strong roofs are much less likely to sustain serious injuries in rollover crashes.
The roof strength performance for the A6 is an improvement over the previous model, which withstood a force equal to 3.8 the car's weight in the same test, earning an acceptable rating. The previous generation of the Passat earned the TOP SAFETY PICK award for the 2009-10 model years. The previous generation was rated good for rollover protection with a strength-to-weight ratio of 4.8 the car's weight. That version of the Passat was discontinued for 2011.
Both of these cars have ESC as standard equipment. ESC is required by federal regulation as of September 1, 2011.