More chrome front and back adds a touch of class...

More chrome front and back adds a touch of class to the 2013 Honda Civic, while the taillights extend onto the trunk lid, just like they did before the redesign back in 2011. Credit: Honda

Two versions of Honda Motor Co.’s Civic are among five vehicles added today to an insurance group’s list of top safety picks, for performing well on a new crash test simulating a severe front-end collision.

The two- and four-door Civics, Honda’s second-best selling car in the U.S., earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick Plus” award for performance both in previous tests and a new evaluation of a crash in which a vehicle’s front corner collides with a car, tree or pole.

Volvo Cars’s Volvo XC60, Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln MKZ and Mazda Motor Corp.’s 2014 Mazda 6 also got the top picks-plus designation today. Thirteen other models were named in December.

“Improvements to the Civic and Accord allow us to put large-volume vehicles into the marketplace and improve the safety of the overall fleet,” Chuck Thomas, chief engineer of automotive safety for Honda in the U.S., said on a conference call with reporters.

The insurance group, based in Arlington, Va., has said it created the new test in part to improve vehicle safety. Honda made engineering changes to the 2013 Civic in part to meet the test requirements and asked the group to test the car, Thomas said.

The institute this week said it will release results of the small-overlap front crash test for small sport-utility vehicles this year.

In December, it released results of the test for mid-size cars with Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry, the best-selling mid-size car in the U.S., and the Prius V hybrid earning the lowest ratings in the new front-end collision test.

New Test

The insurance-industry funded group has said it introduced the test last year because that type of accident accounts for almost a fourth of frontal crashes that seriously injure or kill people in front seats.

Honda used higher-strength steel formed at high temperatures to strengthen the Civic body and designed the cars so the engine compartment absorbs more energy in a front crash, Thomas said. He declined to comment on the cost of the changes.

The Civic was redesigned for the 2012 model year. It overtook Toyota’s Corolla last year as the best-selling compact sedan in the U.S., according to researcher Autodata Corp.

The National Safety Council last month estimated that 2012 was the first year since 2005 in which the number of crash- related roadway deaths rose from the previous year. The group, based in Itasca, Illinois, said about 36,200 people died last year in motor vehicle-related crashes. That’s an increase of about 5 percent.

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