• Image Credit: IIHS


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has issued its Top Safety Picks for 2011, with 66 vehicles making the grade. This year's evaluations show that when it comes to vehicle safety features, a strong roof, one that offers exceptional protection in the event of a rollover accident, is more important than ever.
The Top Safety Pick designation is given to those vehicles that do the best job of protecting drivers and passengers in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on "good" ratings in IIHS tests – the organization's highest rating. IIHS's rating grades are "good," "acceptable," "marginal" and "poor."
Here are 7 great vehicles that were among the Top Safety Picks for their classes.

  • Image Credit: Ford

Minicar: Ford Fiesta

MSRP: $13,320 - $17,120
Fuel Economy: 37 Hwy / 28 City
The all-new Ford Fiesta is a sub-compact, front-wheel drive, five-passenger car. Available in four- and five-door bodystyles, the current benchmarks for the sub-compact segment are being tested by the Fiestas styling, comfort and luxury features, technology, and overall practicality. The Fiesta hatchback is offered as either SE or SES trims, while the sedan can be had in S, SE, or SEL form. Power comes from a 119-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
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  • Image Credit: GM

Large Car: Buick LaCrosse

MSRP: $26,995 - $33,765
Fuel Economy: 30 Hwy / 19 City
The Buick LaCrosse is a sophisticated mid-size sedan, available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations. It seats five passengers in comfort while providing confident handling and a smooth ride. The LaCrosse is available in three front-wheel drive trim levels - CX, CXL and CXS - as well as one all-wheel drive CXL trim. The CX and CXL front-wheel drive models are powered by a 182-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the CXL all-wheel drive and CXS are equipped with a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6.
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Minivan: Toyota Sienna

MSRP: $24,560 - $40,070
Fuel Economy: 24 Hwy / 19 City
The third-generation of the Toyota Sienna minivan is all-new for 2011. The Sienna is available in a wide variety of configurations; front-wheel or all-wheel drive, 2.7-liter 187-hp four-cylinder or 3.5-liter 266-hp V6 engines, and seven or eight passenger seating configurations. Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control, anti-whiplash head-restraints, tire pressure monitor and full-length overhead curtain airbags are just some of the standard safety features.
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Midsize SUV: Ford Explorer

MSRP: $28,190 - $39,190
Fuel Economy: N/A
The Ford Explorer has long been one of the best-selling SUVs in the market. A capable tow vehicle and off-roader, it also offers the generous interior space, comfort features and safety technologies necessary for day-to-day tasks. An all-new Explorer debuts for 2011, sporting a fresh look, improved fuel economy and standard third-row seating. The 7-passenger Explorer is available in both front- and four-wheel drive configurations, with a choice of three trim levels: Base, XLT and Limited. A new 290-hp 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission (with available SelectShift manual mode) are standard on all trims.
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Large SUV: Volkswagen Touareg

MSRP: $44,450 - $57,500
Fuel Economy: 23 Hwy / 16 City
The second-generation Volkswagen Touareg sport utility vehicle is larger and more spacious, yet lighter and more economical than the model it replaces. The Touareg is available in three trim levels, Sport, Lux and Executive, each are powered be either a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 or a 225-hp 3.0-liter turbo-diesel (TDI) V6, both engines are mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
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  • Image Credit: Audi

Midsize Car: Audi A3

MSRP: $27,270 - $30,850
Fuel Economy: 30 Hwy / 21 City
The A3 is an example of the exquisite sensibilities in design and use of materials that distinguishes the contemporary Audi. It is a combination of open-road dynamism, long-haul friendliness, around-town usefulness and fuel economy. The Audi A3 is powered by either a 200-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged (2.0T) four-cylinder gas engine; or a 140-hp 2.0-liter turbo-diesel (TDI) engine. The 2.0T comes standard with a six-speed manual or optional automatic S-tronic transmission that allows manual selection of gears.
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  • Image Credit: GM

Small Car: Chevrolet Cruze

MSRP: $16,275 - $21,975
Fuel Economy: N/A
Chevrolet's new Cruze is a global compact sedan that has been refined for America with an emphasis on fuel economy. The Cruze features two new small-displacement four-cylinder engines; a 140-hp 1.4L turbo, or a 138-hp naturally-aspirated 1.8L. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the LS and soon to be released ECO trims; all others feature a six-speed automatic transmission.
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