Hyundai, VW top insurance industry safe car list

December 22, 2010 3:04:11 PM PST
South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia and German car maker Volkswagen lead the insurance industry's annual list of the safest new vehicles, used by safety-minded consumers looking to buy a new car.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognized 66 vehicles on Wednesday with its "top safety pick award" for the 2011 model year, the most-ever awarded by the Virginia-based group. The number was more than double the 27 vehicles selected last year.

Hyundai Motor Corp. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp., and Volkswagen AG and its Audi brand received the most awards with nine, followed by eight awards apiece by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. The awards, used in advertising to attract car buyers, bolster Hyundai and Volkswagen as they attempt to build a larger foothold in the United States.

Hyundai's Genesis sedan, Sonata midsize and Santa Fe and Tucson sport utility vehicles picked up awards, while Kia was recognized for the Optima midsize car, the Forte and Soul small cars, and the Sorento and Sportage SUVs. Volkswagen won plaudits for the Jetta and Jetta SportWagen, the Golf and GTI small cars and the Touareg and Tiguan SUVs. Audi's A3 and A4 sedans and Q5 SUV also made the list.

Subaru and Chrysler received five awards apiece while Volvo and Mercedes had four. Subaru was the only automaker to win awards in every vehicle category in which it competes. Nissan and Honda had two awards each and Mitsubishi and BMW had one.

Hyundai said the award was particularly sweet for the Sonata, which also received the top score of five stars in the government's crash test program. The combination put Sonata "in a safety position unsurpassed in the industry," said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.

Mark Barnes, Volkswagen of America's chief operating officer, said the recognition for VW was a "testament to our commitment to engineering safe vehicles."

GM's winners include the Chevrolet Malibu, Cruze and Equinox; Cadillac CTS and SRX; Buick LaCrosse and Regal and GMC Terrain. Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, said the award would build on "the already strong global safety reputation of the Cruze."

Ford's picks include the Ford Taurus, Fusion, Fiesta, Explorer and Flex; and the Lincoln MKS, MKZ and MKT. Ford vice president Sue Cischke said the Explorer, which arrived at dealer showrooms earlier this month, offered a good example of the company's safety improvements, including inflatable seat belts and technology that helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle along tough curves.

Toyota, which has grappled with several high-profile recalls during the past year, scored with the Toyota Avalon, Corolla, Sienna, Highlander and Venza; the Lexus RX; and the Scion tC and xB. Toyota said its eight safety picks were "reflective of our ongoing commitment to developing safe and reliable vehicles for our customers."

The vehicles were chosen for protection in front, side and rear crash tests. To qualify for the award, the insurance industry group also requires the vehicles to have anti-rollover electronic stability control, or ESC, and receive top scores in roof strength tests.

Institute president Adrian Lund credited automakers for "quickly rising to meet the more-challenging criteria for `Top Safety Pick."' He said several automakers have requested tests for new models coming out early next year and Lund predicted more winners would be added.

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On the Net:

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: http://www.iihs.org

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognized 66 vehicles as winners of their top safety pick award for the 2011 model year. The award honors vehicles for their ability to protect motorists in front, side, rear and rollover crashes. The vehicles must have anti-rollover technology called Electronic Stability Control, or ESC, and strong scores in roof strength tests.

LARGE CARS
Buick LaCrosse
Buick Regal
BMW 5 Series
Cadillac CTS
Ford Taurus
Hyundai Genesis
Infiniti M
Lincoln MKS
Mercedes E Class sedan
Mercedes E Class coupe
Toyota Avalon
Volvo S80

MIDSIZE CARS
Audi A3
Audi A4
Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler 200
Dodge Avenger
Ford Fusion
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Lincoln MKZ
Mercedes C Class
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
Volvo C30

SMALL CARS
Chevrolet Cruze
Honda Civic
Kia Forte
Kia Soul
Mitsubishi Lancer
Nissan Cube
Scion tC
Scion xB
Subaru Impreza
Toyota Corolla
Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen GTI

MIDSIZE SUVs
Ford Fiesta

MINIVAN
Toyota Sienna

LARGE SUV
Volkswagen Touareg
?MIDSIZE SUVs
Audi Q5
Cadillac SRX
Chevrolet Equinox
Dodge Journey
Ford Explorer
Ford Flex
GMC Terrain
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento
Lexus RX
Lincoln MKT
Mercedes GLK
Subaru Tribeca
Toyota Highlander
Toyota Venza
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC90

SMALL SUVs
Honda Element
Hyundai Tucson
Jeep Patriot
Kia Sportage
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.


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