2011 IIHS Top Safety Picks Released

Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made it even harder for a new car or SUV to earn the agency’s highest award of Top Safety Pick. By adding a roof-strength test more stringent than the government’s, IIHS knocked the crop of designees down to 27 models. As more models were tested, and manufacturers tweaked their designs, that number grew to 58.
For 2011, the number of Top Safety Picks is even larger — 66.
Leading the way are Kia and Hyundai, with a combined nine picks, and Audi and VW, which also combine for nine. General Motors, Ford and Lincoln as well asToyota, Lexus and Scion have eight picks each, while Subaru is the only brand to have its entire lineup earning nods with five.
Among new additions are the recently released or redesigned 2011 Kia Optima, Ford Explorer and the new VW Jetta and Touareg.

The full list is below.

2011 Model Year Winners (* indicates new winners for 2011)

Large cars
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Buick Regal
  • BMW 5 Series (except four-wheel drive and V-8)
  • Cadillac CTS sedan
  • Ford Taurus
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Infiniti M37, M56 (except M56x four-wheel drive)
  • Lincoln MKS
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe*
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Volvo S80

Midsize cars

  • Audi A3
  • Audi A4 sedan
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Chrysler 200 four-door
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Ford Fusion
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Optima*
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Volkswagen Jetta sedan*
  • Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
  • Volvo C30

Small cars

  • Chevrolet Cruze*
  • Honda Civic four-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
  • Kia Forte sedan
  • Kia Soul
  • Mitsubishi Lancer (except four-wheel drive)
  • Nissan Cube
  • Scion tC*
  • Scion xB
  • Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback (except WRX)
  • Volkswagen Golf four-door
  • Volkswagen GTI four-door*


  • Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback built after July 2010


  • 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 built after March 2010
  • Lexus RX
  • Lincoln MKT
  • Mercedes GLK-Class*
  • Subaru Tribeca
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Venza
  • Volvo XC60
  • Volvo XC90

Small SUVs

  • Honda Element
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
  • Kia Sportage
  • Subaru Forester
  • Volkswagen Tiguan


Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David