Ford, Subaru and Volkswagen lead the insurance industry's annual list of the safest new vehicles, according to a closely watched assessment used by car companies to lure safety-conscious consumers to showrooms.
The Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its "top safety pick" on Wednesday to 19 passenger cars and eight sport utility vehicles for the 2010 model year. The institute substantially reduced the number of awards compared with 2009, because of tougher requirements for roof strength.
Ford Motor Co. and its Volvo unit received the most awards with six, followed by five awards apiece for Japanese automaker Subaru and German automaker Volkswagen AG and its Audi unit.
Chrysler Group LLC received four awards followed by two each for Honda Motor Co. and General Motors Co. Toyota Motor Corp., BMW AG, Mazda Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. were shut out in the annual IIHS review, The Associated Press reports.
Last year, cars, trucks and SUVs had to get top crash test marks for front and side impacts as well as for rear-impact whiplash protection. Plus they had to have electronic stability control, a computerized system that helps the driver maintain control during abrupt maneuvers or on slippery roads.
This year, the Insurance Institute added a requirement for roof crush safety to protect occupants in the event of a rollover. To test roof strength, the Institute presses a metal bar against one side of the vehicle's roof. To earn a good rating, the roof must withstand 4 times the vehicle's weight while crushing less than five inches, CNN Money reports.
Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute, says his group tests about 50 to 55 vehicles during the model year, using its own funding. Additional cars are tested at the request of car makers, which in these cases pay for the test vehicle.
Often these vehicles initially missed the top rating and were resubmitted for testing later in the model year. At the beginning of the 2009 model year, 72 vehicles received the group's top rating. By the end of the year, following additional tests, the list grew to 94, Wall Street Journal informs.