The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released its final list of vehicles to receive the "Top Safety Pick" award for the 2011 model year, and this year a total of sixty-six models managed to walk away with the proud distinction. Winners for this year included 40 passenger cars, 25 SUVs, and a minivan.
The IIHS provides a level of vehicle safety testing that goes beyond the Federal standards for car safety. In order to qualify for the award, vehicles must perform well enough to earn a "good" rating (on a scale of good, acceptable, marginal and poor) in front, side, rollover, and rear crash tests, and they must also come with available electronic stability control.
As the IIHS has raised its standards, auto manufacturers have responded by making safer cars. At the beginning of 2010, when the latest standards were raised to include higher performance in a roof strength test, only 27 vehicles qualified for the list. That number grew to 58 at the end of the year as carmakers responded to the more stringent standards by introducing new models and strengthening old designs. And this year, ten more models made the cut (two past winners were discontinued) which brings the total to 66.
Highlights for this year's list of winners include both Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi; both carmakers lead the way with nine cars on the list. Subaru is also worth noting - they are the only carmaker to win an award in each class that they qualify for, and put five cars on the list. The Volkswagen Touareg is the only large SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick award for 2011, and the Ford Fiesta is the only sub-compact (or minicar) to earn that distinction.
To view new car safety ratings from both the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), check out the new car research pages on NewCars.com.
Here are the IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2011: