The private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety here in the United States has released its list for what it considers the safest cars of 2010; 19 passenger cars and eight sport utility vehicles received top honors. Ford, Subaru and Volkswagen lead the pack. Fewer cars made the list this year, largely because the insurance group has added a new test to determine overall car safety.
For safety conscious car buyers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's annual list of the safest new vehicles provides a few surprises.
U.S. automaker Ford and its Volvo unit received the most with six awards -- followed by Subaru and Volkswagen with five safety awards each.
Another big winner was Chrysler.
"Chrysler this year has four top safety picks," said Insurance Institute President Adrian Lund.
Lund says in all - 27 cars and sport utility vehicles received top safety awards for 2010 models. Other winners included Honda and G.M. But in a surprise twist this year, Toyota, the world's largest automaker, came up empty.
"The absence of Toyota among the top safety picks is a bit of a surprise," Lund said. "They had 11 of these for 2009 and none this year."
Part of the reason, is that apart from the obligatory front end crash tests
side impacts, and rear-end collisions, this year, car roofs also had to be strong enough to withstand rollovers.
The Volkswagen held up well.
But many new vehicles failed.
"Well, a lot of vehicles missed this list because of the new roof strength rating," Lund said. "Their roofs aren't quite strong enough to get a good rating in our test."
To make the list, new vehicles must also come equipped with electronic stability control, or ESC, which helps drivers maintain control in a skid.
"It's very interesting to see manufacturers build safer and safer cars. And the real winner is the consumer," said Karl Brauer, editor for online car advisor Edmunds.com..
The Insurance Institute attributes the additional tests for the smaller number of awards issued this year. Last year, more than 90 vehicles received the coveted safety awards.