The 2011 BMW 5-Series and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata are the only vehicles to retain five-star crash-test safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under new testing rules and scoring for the 2011 model year.
The safety agency publishes a new Web site today, which is coming live in sections. The new site details the new policy for scoring cars for crash safety, and explains that,
"Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and rigorous new 5-Star Safety Ratings that provide more information about safety feature performance and crash avoidance technologies. Because of the more stringent tests, ratings for 2011 and newer vehicles should not be compared to ratings for 1990-2010 models."
Under the new ratings system, an overall score is determined from a combination of front and side-impact tests and the rollover-resistance tests. The score also is arrived at by comparing results to the injury risk for the vehicle.
The Detroit News has obtained the results and scores for the first 20 vehicles rated under the new system, though the information does not show up on SaferCar.gov. The paper reports that the BMW and Hyundai sedans have earned a five-star rating for the new blended ratings, while most vehicles scored four stars.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid saw its overall score drop from a mix of four- and five-star ratings to an overall three stars.
The Nissan Versa had scored five stars in some tests for 2010, but the 2011 rating published by the News is two stars.
The NHTSA plans to publish another 20 ratings for vehicles in the near future, but critics are concerned the new scores do little to enlighten vehicle safety for consumers. Of the 34 vehicles with scores published today, the News adds, 29 received an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
2011 safety scores, NHTSA