Nineteen cars and 8 SUVs earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 's Top Safety Pick award for 2010. For the first time ever, good performance in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover was 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.

Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 people die in car crashes each year. A little over 9,000 of those deaths occurred in rollovers. Subaru is the only car manufacturer who received a top rating for all four crash tests and in every vehicle class in which it competed. Ford -owned Volvo and the German car manufacturer Volkswagen, also received top ratings for multiple vehicles.

What car manufacturers missed 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.

Here's a list of the 27 winners:

Large cars

Buick LaCrosse
Ford Taurus
Lincoln MKS
Volvo S80

Midsize cars

Audi A3
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
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Passat sedan
Volvo C30

Small cars

Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Soul
Nissan Cube
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door

Midsize SUVs

Dodge Journey
Subaru Tribeca
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs

Honda Element
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

Sources:

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety Status Report, Vol. 44, No. 10: November 18, 2009

27 Winners of 2010 Top Safety Pick Award

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety's Safety Tests Video


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