The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (“IIHS”) has released its top safety picks for 2011 vehicles. A record 66 models made the list, including 25 SUVs, which the IIHS considers the safest 2011 SUVs on the road. A vehicle’s crash worthiness was based upon its performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, and evaluation of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.
To make the list, a vehicle had to offer electronic stability control. The IIHS found that all 2011 SUVs tested have electronic stability control and 92% have standard head and torso side airbags. Improvements in roof structures and the amount of standard safety features are cited as the biggest reason for the number of vehicles making the list.
The IIHS has four different rating grades for vehicles: good, acceptable, marginal or poor based upon their performance in the above criteria. To earn a top safety pick rating, a model must rate “good” in all categories. The IIHS had a total eight vehicle categories and three SUV categories: small SUV, midsize SUV, and large SUV. Only one model that the IIHS considered a large SUV made the list, the Volkswagen Touareg.
According to the IIHS, the safest 2011 SUVs are: Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Ford Explorer, Ford Flex, GMC Terrain, Honda Element, Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Patriot (with optional side torso airbags), Kia Sorrento (built after March 2010), Kia Sportage, Lexus RX, Lincoln MKT, Mercedes GLK, Subaru Forester, Subaru Tribeca, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Venza, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC60, and Volvo XC90.
Nearly every major SUV manufacturer had at least one model on the IIHS’ list. One standout was Korean owned Hyundai/Kia, which had a combined four SUV models on the list. For more information, the IIHS has a total of 191 vehicles rated on its website at http://www.iihs.org/ratings/default.aspx.