by STAFF WRITER Published November 19, 2009 Credit Unions Online
Nineteen cars and 8 SUVs earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's TOP SAFETY PICK award for 2010. For the first time, good performance in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover is required to win. 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.
Subaru is the only manufacturer with a winner in all 4 vehicle classes in which it competes. This automaker earns 5 awards for 2010. Ford and subsidiary Volvo have 6 winners, and Volkswagen/Audi has 5. Chrysler earns 4 awards, continuing a recent 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.
Good rollover ratings: A new requirement for strong roofs winnows the list of TOP SAFETY PICK winners from a record 94 in 2009. The addition of this criterion recognizes manufacturers with vehicles that provide good protection in rollovers, which kill more than 9,000 people in passenger vehicles each year. The first rollover ratings were released in March. Vehicles rated good have roofs more than twice as strong as the current federal standard requires. The Institute estimates that such roofs reduce the risk of serious and fatal injury in single-vehicle rollovers by about 50 percent compared with roofs meeting the minimum requirement.
Missing the mark: 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. The Honda Accord picked up the award the past 2 years, but the 2010 didn't earn the required good roof strength rating to qualify (the roof is rated acceptable). The Ford Fusion is another midsize car that dropped off the list for the same reason.
Safety equipment is increasingly standard. Ninety-two percent of 2010 model cars, 99 percent of SUVs, and 66 percent of pickup trucks have standard side airbags with head protection. Electronic stability control is standard on 85 percent of cars, 100 percent of SUVs, and 62 percent of pickups.
ALL 27 WINNERS
Chevrolet Malibu built after October 2009
Chrysler Sebring 4-door with optional electronic stability control
Dodge Avenger with optional electronic stability control
Mercedes C class
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Passat sedan
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door