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Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Announces Top Safety Picks

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is out with its list of the 66 winners of 2011 Top Safety Pick award. The number includes 40 cars, 25 SUVs and crossovers, and a minivan.

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Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi each have 9 winners for 2011. Next in line with 8 awards apiece are General Motors, Ford/Lincoln, and Toyota/Lexus/Scion. Subaru is the only manufacturer with a winner in all the vehicle classes in which it competes. Subaru earns 5 awards for 2011.

There has been some criticism that manufacturers are building products to meet the IIHS guidelines, which recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests. It seems like an odd critique, though, because it means people are driving safer vehicles.

One aspect of the test is going to go away in 2012. The IIHS requires winners have available electronic stability control, a crash avoidance feature that significantly reduces crash risk. (Never, ever shut it off on a vehicle you are driving outside of a closed environment like a race track – it really works.) All 2012 models and beyond are required to have it. Companies that don’t offer it in 2011 models are just trying to save a few bucks at the expense of consumer safety.

Honda is among the chief offenders, which is why there are only two Hondas on the list: the Honda Civic with optional stability control and the Honda Element that coincidentally Honda is no longer producing after 2011. Honda will argue that people don’t want to pay for stability control until it is mandated. Well, sometimes a manufacturer just needs to take the lead – especially when its vehicles are so good in so many other ways.

Newly announced winners for 2011 include: Mercedes E class coupe, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Jetta sedan, Chevrolet Cruze, Scion tC, Volkswagen GTI 4-door, Volkswagen Touareg, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Mercedes GLK.

ALL 66 WINNERS (italics indicates newly-announced winners for 2011)

Large cars

  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Buick Regal
  • BMW 5 series (except 4-wheel drive and V8)
  • Cadillac CTS sedan
  • Ford Taurus
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Infinite M37/M56 (except M56x 4-wheel drive)
  • Lincoln MKS
  • Mercedes E class coupe
  • Mercedes E class sedan
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Volvo S80

Midsize cars

  • Audi A3
  • Audi A4 sedan
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Chrysler 200 4-door
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Ford Fusion
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Optima
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Mercedes C class
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Volkswagen Jetta sedan
  • Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
  • Volvo C30

Small cars

  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
  • Kia Forte sedan
  • Kia Soul
  • Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (except 4-wheel drive)
  • Nissan Cube
  • Scion tC
  • Scion xB
  • Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback (except WRX)
  • Volkswagen Golf 4-door
  • Volkswagen GTI 4-door
  • Minicar
  • Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback built after July 2010


  • Toyota Sienna

Large SUV

  • Volkswagen Touareg

Midsize SUVs

  • Audi Q5
  • Cadillac SRX
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Dodge Journey
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Flex
  • GMC Terrain
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Kia Sorento built after March 2010
  • Lexus RX
  • Lincoln MKT
  • Mercedes GLK
  • Subaru Tribeca
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Venza
  • Volvo XC60
  • Volvo XC90

Small SUVs

  • Honda Element
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
  • Kia Sportage
  • Subaru Forester
  • Volkswagen Tiguan

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michel (not verified)    October 8, 2011 - 12:17AM

Top Safety Pick recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front side and rear crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests.
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