This video first ran in January 2012.
Adrian Lund: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is recognizing a record number of cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickups with top safety pick awards for 2012. When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety launched the Top Safety Pick Award for crash test performance back in 2005, only eleven models made that initial cut.
Now consumers have more than 100 models to choose from and the requirement to win the top safety pick are much tougher than they were back in 2005.
In 2010 we added a roof strength test. In response manufacturers stepped up to the plate; they redesigned the roofs and made big strides in offering better roll over protection to their occupants.
A big change this year is to the electronic stability control. We used to require electronic stability control in order to win the top safety pick, but now it’s standard on all vehicles. Auto makers moved quickly to put stability control on vehicles when research showed it’s a life saver.
Every major auto maker has at least one winner this year. Subaru’s a stand out because it’s the only auto maker that earns the award for every model it builds.
Honda deserves credit for making the most improvements. They upgraded the roofs of ten Honda and Acura models that missed the award last year only because of the roll over protection.
Two of the most popular mid-sized cars didn’t make the top safety pick list last year. But the Honda Accord earns the award this year after engineers strengthened the roof structure.
And a Toyota Camry makes the list for ever with seat and head restraint ratings that have improved from marginal to good.
Vehicles should be designed so that the occupant compartment where the people sit stays intact even in serious crashes. It’s packaging 101: If the box doesn’t collapse then the cargo that’s inside is better protected.
Auto makers recognize that safety is a big selling point. That’s why they are engineering their vehicles to earn the highest crash test rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety
The winners’ circle includes 18 new recipients for 2012, while 97 models that previously qualified for the 2011 award carry over to 2012.
Toyota/Lexus/Scion has 15 winners for 2012, more than any other auto manufacturer. General Motors is next in line with 14, followed by Volkswagen/Audi with 13, and Ford/Lincoln and Honda/Acura with 12 awards apiece.
ALL 115 WINNERS (red indicates newly-announced winners for 2012)
Fiat 500 built after July 2011
Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback
Toyota Yaris 4-door hatchback
Honda Civic 4-door
Kia Forte sedan
Lexus CT 200h
Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback
Mini Cooper Countryman
Mitsubishi Lancer except Ralliart and Evolution
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door
Volkswagen GTI 4-door
Midsize moderately priced cars
Chrysler 200 4-door
Toyota Prius v
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
Midsize luxury/near luxury cars
Acura TL built after September 2011
Acura TSX sedan and hatchback
Volkswagen CC except 4-wheel drive
Large family cars
Large luxury cars
BMW 5 series except 4-wheel drive and V8
Cadillac CTS sedan
Infiniti M37/M56 except M56x 4-wheel drive
Mercedes E-Class sedan
Mercedes E-Class coupe
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Midsize luxury SUVs
Chrysler Town & Country
Dodge Grand Caravan
Ford F-150 crew cab models
Toyota Tundra crew cab models
How vehicles are evaluated: The Institute’s frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle’s overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.
Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on 2 instrumented SID-IIs dummies representing a 5th percentile woman, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle’s structural performance during the impact.
In the roof strength test, a metal plate is pushed against 1 side of a roof at a displacement rate of 0.2 inch per second. To earn a good rating for rollover protection, the roof must withstand a force of 4 times the vehicle’s weight before reaching 5 inches of crush. This is called a strength-to-weight ratio.
Rear crash protection is rated according to a 2-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry — the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man.
Seat/head restraints with good or acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. Seats without good or acceptable geometry are rated poor overall because they can’t be positioned to protect many people.