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Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen lead safety awards

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is one of three

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is one of three vehicles that have the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety stamp as one of the safest. The institute recognized 66 vehicles as winners for the 2011 model year. This was the car's introduction in Times Square. (June 2010) Photo Credit: AP

South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia and German carmaker 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 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.

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

Subaru, which received five awards, was the only automaker to win in every vehicle category in which it competes. Toyota, which has grappled with several high-profile recalls during the past year, scored with its Avalon, Corolla, Sienna, Highlander, Venza, Lexus and Scion models.

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 for General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. Chrysler received five awards.

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. Audi's A3 and A4 sedans and Q5 SUV also made the list.

Volvo and Mercedes had four awards. 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.

GM's winners include the Chevrolet Malibu and Cruze as well as the Buick LaCrosse.

Ford's picks include the Ford Taurus, Fiesta and Flex; and the Lincoln MKS, MKZ and MKT.

Chrysler won awards for its Jeep Patriot and Dodge Avenger.

Institute president Adrian Lund credited automakers for "quickly rising to meet the more-challenging criteria for 'Top Safety Pick' " and predicted more winners would be added next year.


Top Safety Pick winners



Large cars


Buick LaCrosse

Buick Regal

BMW 5 series (except 4-wheel drive and V8)

Cadillac CTS sedan

Ford Taurus

Hyundai Genesis

Infiniti M37/M56 (except M56x 4-wheel drive)

Lincoln MKS

Mercedes E class coupe

Mercedes E class sedan

Toyota Avalon

Volvo S80



Midsize cars


Audi A3

Audi A4 sedan

Chevrolet Malibu

Chrysler 200 4-door

Dodge Avenger

Ford Fusion

Hyundai Sonata

Kia Optima

Lincoln MKZ

Mercedes C class

Subaru Legacy

Subaru Outback

Volkswagen Jetta sedan

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

Volvo C30



Small cars


Chevrolet Cruze

Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control

Kia Forte sedan

Kia Soul

Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (except 4-wheel drive)

Nissan Cube

Scion tC

Scion xB

Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback (except WRX)

Toyota Corolla

Volkswagen Golf 4-door

Volkswagen GTI 4-door





Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback built after July 2010





Toyota Sienna



Large SUVs


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

Subaru Tribeca

Toyota Highlander

Toyota Venza

Volvo XC60

Volvo XC90



Small SUVs


Honda Element

Hyundai Tucson

Jeep Patriot (with optional side torso air bags)

Kia Sportage

Subaru Forester

Volkswagen Tiguan

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety


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