The Alexandria, Va.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named 19 cars and eight SUVs winners of their Top Safety Pick award for 2010.

To win the award, vehicles must protect occupants in front, side and rear crashes in Institute tests. Also for the first time this year, two new criteria were added. Winning vehicles are now required to exhibit good performance in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover, and also are required to have electronic stability control, which research shows significantly reduces crash risk.

The Institute said the roof strength ranking was particularly telling, and caused the number of winners to be reduced from a record 94 vehicles in 2009 to only 27 for 2010. To receive a “good” rating, vehicles roofs must be more than twice as strong as the current federal standard requires. The Institute estimates that such roofs reduce the risk of serious and fatal injury in single-vehicle rollovers by about 50%, compared with roofs meeting the minimum requirement.

"With the addition of our new roof strength evaluation, our crash test results now cover all four of the most common kinds of crashes," Institute president Adrian Lund said in a statement. "Consumers can use this list to zero in on the vehicles that are on the top rung for safety."

The manufacturers awarded the most awards include Ford, and its subsidiary Volvo, which placed six winners on the list. Volkswagen/Audi was honored five times, as was Subaru, which was the only manufacturer with a winner in all vehicle classes in which it competes. The world’s largest automaker Toyota/Lexus failed to put a single vehicle on the list.

Click here to view all 27 award winners.


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