The 2011 BMW 5-Series sedan has earned a distinction the last-generation four-door never could--it's been named a Top Safety Pick.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the new 5er its best possible score, after performing its series of crash tests, tests that are more rigorous than those performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The prior 2010 BMW 5-Series fell short of great crash-test scores. The insurance-industry-supported IIHS found the 2010 5-Series sedan to be just "marginal" in side protection and "acceptable" for the sedan and wagon in the seat-based rear-impact test.
To be eligible for the Top Safety Pick award, cars must earn the IIHS score of "good" on the tests, must have standard stability control, and must also meet a new roof-crush standard that's thinned the pack of Top Safety Picks for the 2011 model year by a significant margin.
Other large luxury sedans earning the designation include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Lincoln MKS and the Volvo S80.
Since it's topped the charts, we're boosting the safety score in our review of the 2011 BMW 5-Series to a perfect 10 out of 10. We're also checking to make sure the new safety rating includes the similar BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo; BMW says it has no indication the agency is planning to test the GT separately.