Tough New Roof Test Whittles Down Field of IIHS 'Top Safety Pick' WinnersBy Bill Visnic November 18, 2009
A rigorous new roof-strength standard means a lot fewer new models earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "Top Safety Pick" award for 2010.
This year, just 27 individual models were named Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, compared with last year's record 94 models that earned the award. Most of the reason so many new vehicles couldn't grab the brass ring comes down to a newly instituted roof-safety test presumed to indicate superior protection in rollovers, which are involved in about one-third of all fatal accidents.
"With the addition of our new roof strength evaluation, our crash test results now cover all 4 of the most common kinds of crashes," said IIHS president Adrian Lund in a release. "Consumers can use this list to zero in on the vehicles that are on the top rung for safety."
The industry (and consumers) may be as interested in who didn't win as who did, zeroing in on several high-profile manufacturers who have won the award in the past but this year placed no vehicles in the Top Safety Pick group, including Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG. Toyota had 11 winners last year.
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.'s Subaru led all manufacturers with five IIHS Top Safety Pick winners and a winner in all four categories in which it qualified. Ford Motor Co. - led by its Volvo Cars division - had six winners, Volkwagen AG and its Audi AG premium division had five winners and Chrysler Group LLC had four winners.
Several compact cars and crossovers were Top Safety Award winners, proving size is not an absolute necessity to achieve superior safety ratings.
Adapting Will Produce Better Results
The IIHS said several vehicles would perhaps require only minor modifications to earn the "good" ratings in certain crash tests that would enable them to become Top Safety Picks. Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s Accord, for example, would need small tweaks to earn good ratings in the new roof-strength test, as would Ford's popular Fusion.
The IIHS first presented the Top Safety Pick rating in 2006, and with the new roof-strength test requires a vehicle to earn a "good" rating for tests in frontal impact, side impact and rear-impact crash tests.
The IIHS also reported a promising trend in the availability of crucial safety features as standard equipment. The agency said 99 percent of 2010 SUVs and 92 percent of 2010 cars have side-impact air bags as standard (pickups: 66 percent) and 100 percent of SUVs and 85 percent of cars have standard electronic stability control (the feature will be required for all new vehicles by 2012).
The IIHS's list of all 27 Top Safety Pick winners for 2010 can be found here. - Bill Visnic, senior contributing editor
Photo by Subaru
Subaru led all manufacturers with IIHS Top Safety Pick winners in all four classes in which its vehicles qualified.