Top Auto Safety Picks for 2010: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Annual Awards

How does your vehicle measure up if it is involved in a crash? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its annual “Top Safety Pick” awards on November 18, 2009, to the following passenger cars and sport utility vehicles:


  • Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional stability control
  • Kia Soul
  • Nissan Cube
  • Subaru Impreza (except WRX)
  • Volkswagen Golf 4-door


  • Honda Element
  • Jeep Patriot (with optional side torso airbags)
  • Subaru Forester
  • Volkswagen Tiguan


  • Audi A3
  • Chevrolet Malibu (built after November 2009)
  • Chrysler Sebring 4-door with optional electronic stability control
  • Dodge Avenger with optional electronic stability control
  • Mercedes C class
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Volkswagen Jetta sedan
  • Volkswagen Passat sedan
  • Volvo C30


  • Dodge Journey
  • Subaru Tribeca
  • Volvo XC60
  • Volvo XC90


  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Ford Taurus
  • Lincoln MKS
  • Volvo S80

The Ford Motor Company and its Volvo unit was the big winner with six (6) awards, followed by Japanese automaker Subaru and German automaker Volkswagen and its Audi unit, which received five (5) awards. The world’s biggest automaker by sales, Toyota and its Lexus and Scion subsidiaries, did not receive a single award this year despite receiving eleven (11) in 2009.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety describes itself as “an independent, nonprofit, scientific, and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses – deaths, injuries and property damage – from crashes on the nation’s highways.” Their mission is shared and supported by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which conducts scientific studies of insurance data on the losses resulting from auto crashes. Both organizations are wholly supported /funded by the nation’s leading auto insurers.

The Institute has been conducting crash tests since their founding in 1959. Their “Top Safety Pick” is an annual award to vehicles based upon their crashworthiness and how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash. The Institute determines crashworthiness based on a vehicle’s performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. Vehicles are rated as good, acceptable, marginal or poor. To earn a “Top Safety Pick” for 2010, a vehicle must have a good rating in all Institute tests?plus the winning vehicles must offer electronic stability control.

This year marked the first time the Institute required a good performance rating in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover crash. This tougher requirement dramatically reduced the number of awards – from 72 winners in 2009 – to 27 winners for 2010.

For past winners and additional information on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ?.check out their website at

About the Author: David Williams is a Fredericksburg personal injury lawyer with Allen & Allen.