2010 Chevrolet MalibuEnlarge Photo
In the mid-size car segment so popular with families, safety ratings play an increasingly important factor in the decision to purchase a particular model. When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) added a roof strength test to measure protection in the event of a rollover for the 2010 testing, some automakers’ models fell off the list of Top Safety Picks. The IIHS noted that only a few minor changes would need to be made, in some cases, for those models to jump back on the list.
Automakers listened, and it's a good thing they did. Consumers shopping for a safe family car from the mid-size ranks now have more choices in 2011 models designated Top Safety Picks. Here are seven on the current list (Top Safety Picks 2010):
As an affordable (roughly $22,000-$27,000 MSRP) midsize family sedan, the 2011 Chevrolet Malibu (and 2010 models built after November 2009) is a well-rounded vehicle with seating for five that has something competitors Honda Accord and Toyota Camry don’t – a Top Safety Pick rating. That may soon change, but for now, Malibu and Ford Fusion are volume sellers with this distinction.
New 2010 Ford Fusion HybridEnlarge Photo
Automaker Ford made the required changes to bolster roof strength, thus earning the five-passenger Fusion the Top Safety Pick for 2010-2011 (models built after April 2010). Largely unchanged from 2010 (pictured right), when Fusion won the North American Car of the Year award, the 2011 model features integrated blind-spot mirrors and is an ideal car for small families. It’s also priced right with starting MSRPs from under $20,000 to about $28,500.