Nineteen cars and eight SUVs earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award for 2010 it was announced today. For the first time, good performance in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover is required to win.
These winners have safety performance that far exceeds U.S. Government requirements.
Top Safety Pick recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rear, and now rollover crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests. Winners also must have electronic stability control, which research shows significantly reduces crash risk. This is the second time the Institute has tightened criteria since announcing the first recipients in 2005.
Front and side impacts and rollovers killed 24,056 passenger vehicle occupants in 2008. Rear-end crashes usually aren’t fatal but result in a large proportion of crash injuries. Neck sprain or strain is the most commonly reported injury in two-thirds of insurance claims for injuries in all kinds of crashes.
The Institute awarded the first Top Safety Pick winners to 2006 models and then changed its rating the next year by requiring good rear test results and electronic stability control as either standard or optional equipment.
Early this year the Institute alerted auto manufacturers to the new criteria for roof crush and asked them to nominate candidates for testing. The Institute has been criticized for the limited number of test it runs because a chance occurrence can drastically alter results, but not for its methodology.
Subaru is the only manufacturer with a winner in all four of the vehicle classes where it competes. Subaru earned five awards for 2010. Ford and subsidiary Volvo have six winners. Volkswagen and Audi have five. Chrysler earned four awards, which the Institute said continued a trend of improving the crashworthiness of its vehicles. Two new small cars, the Nissan Cube and Kia Soul, join the Top Safety Pick list for 2010.
Not a single model from the world’s biggest automaker by sales is represented among this year’s winners. Toyota and its Lexus and Scion subsidiaries had a strong showing in 2009 with 11 winners but were shut out for 2010.
Four other manufacturers whose vehicles have earned Top Safety Pick in the past didn’t have a qualifying vehicle for 2010: BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Saab.