Cars really are getting safer, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick list. More cars and SUVs than ever made the list this year, a record 66 vehicles, despite the addition of a new roof strength requirement to earn the honor.
The roof-strength requirement was initially a high hurdle: only 27 cars made the list to start. After a single year of work to meet the new standard, carmakers have risen to the challenge, with Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi leading the way at nine Top Safety Picks each.
American manufacturers are doing well, too: General Motors and Ford both snagged eight picks apiece, matching Toyota/Lexus/Scion and beating Honda, Nissan, and Mercedes among others. Subaru remains the only carmaker with all of its models on the Top Safety Pick list.
To meet the new roof test, a car must survive a metal plate pushed against one side of the roof at a rate of 0.2 inches per second, withstanding four times the vehicle's weight before deforming more than five inches. The test evaluates the vehicle's strength-to-weight ratio, and is intended to simulate the ability to withstand collapse in a rollover accident.
In addition to the roof-strength test, Top Safety Picks must also clear front, rear, and side impact testing with a range of dummies used to evaluate injury potential.
For a full list of all 66 winners, read on to page two.
ALL 66 WINNERS (red indicates newly-announced winners for 2011)
BMW 5 series (except 4-wheel drive and V8)
Cadillac CTS sedan
Infinite 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