IIHS announces 'Top Safety Picks for 2011'
66 vehicles recognized for top safety ratings
A total of 66 vehicles have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) "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 electronic stability control, a crash avoidance feature that significantly reduces crash risk. The ratings help consumers choose vehicles that offer a higher level of protection than federal safety standards require.
Last year, the IIHS toughened its 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.
IIHS awarded the first Top Safety Pick to 2006 models and then raised the bar in 2007 by requiring good rear test results and electronic stability control as either standard or optional equipment. With last year's addition of new criteria for roof crush, the IIHS' crash test ratings now cover all four of the most common kinds of crashes.
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 50th percentile male 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.
• In the roof strength test, a metal plate is pushed against one side of a roof at a displacement rate of 0.2 inch per second. To earn a good rating for rollover protection, the roof must withstand a force of four times the vehicle's weight before reaching five inches of crush. This is called a strength-to-weight ratio.
• 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.
ALL 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
Reprinted with permission from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Visit iihs.org for more information