IIHS Top Safety Picks: Ford, Subaru Make Grade, Unhappy Toyota Airs Concern

November 19, 2009

Toyota, the number one-selling automaker worldwide, is firing back today at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks for 2010, saying that the automaker is confident its vehicles are among the safest on the road today and is committed to the highest levels of vehicle safety and quality.

The highway safety group yesterday issued its Top Safety Pick list yesterday and neither Toyota nor its Lexus or Scion subsidiaries were included. Irv Miller, Toyota's group vice president for environmental and public affairs, reminded people that In 2009, Toyota won more IIHS Top Safety Pick (TSP) awards than any other manufacturer. Toyota continues to improve vehicle passive and active safety, including improvement of past winners of IIHS TSP.

Miller's comments follow the release of the 2010 Top Safety Pick list that saw Ford, Subaru and Volkswagen receiving nods as Safety Picks. In addition,Chrysler placed four vehicles on the list. And, Nissan Cube was a Top Safety Pick, as was Kias Soul.

This year the auto safety group toughened its standards by adding roof strength performance to its already-published list requirements. To qualify for as a TSP, a vehicle must pass the IIHS' rigorous requirements for:

  • Front protection

  • Rear protection

  • Side protection

  • Rollover protection

With the addition of our new roof strength evaluation, our crash test results now cover all four of the most common kinds of crashes, Adrian Lund, IIHS president, noted. Consumers can use this list to zero in on vehicles that are on the top run for safety.

By tightening up the standards, the number of IIHS Top Safety Picks has been narrowed considerably from last year's 94 to this year's 27 winners.

The new standard recognizes that manufacturers have to do a better job in rollover protection as, IIHS notes, 9,000 people are killed every year in rollovers.

The IIHS standard is tougher than the federal rollover standard, IIHS noted. The safety group noted that those Top Picks that have passed the tougher safety standard have roofs that are more than twice as strong as the current federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 216.

IIHS notes that vehicles that meet its enhanced Top Safety Pick standard reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury by 50 percent, compared to vehicle roofs that just meet FMVSS 216.

Cars and SUVs that win Top Safety Pick are designs that go far behind the minimum federal safety standard, Lund enthused.

Toyota's Miller countered this morning by stating that IIHS statement that Toyota was shut out for 2010 is extreme and misleading, considering there are 38 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models, and only three were tested for roof strength by IIHS: Camry, RAV4 and Yaris.

And, Toyota's Miller pointed out that This is the first year IIHS has included its own roof strength tests, which exceed federal standards, for Top Safety Pick (TSP) consideration. All Toyota vehicles meet or exceed Federal Safety Standards for frontal and side impact, roof crush resistance and rollover protection. While passive collision protection is very important, Toyota also provides an array of active, passive, pre-collision and collision avoidance features. The 'Star Safety System' is standard equipment on all Toyota and Lexus models.

Indeed, Toyota wasn't the only import that had models that didn't make the list. BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Saab were also absent.

Interestingly, Lund pointed out that Toyota's Camry would have made it with good ratings except, for its rear crash evaluation Camry's rear seats and head restraints are only rated marginal for protection against whiplash injury. A change would have moved Camry into the winners. Ford's redesigned 2010 Fusion and Honda's Accord also were just short of the mark.

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