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Toyota fails to land 'top safety pick' rating in insurance-group study

Wed, 18 Nov 2009

For the first time in three years, none of Toyota Motor Corp.'s vehicles received “top safety pick” ratings from an insurance group, as tougher criteria pared the number of selections from 94 last year to 27 this year.

Ford Motor Co. led all automakers for the second year in a row with six 2010-model top safety picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, including four from Volvo, a brand that's being sold. Subaru and Volkswagen AG finished next with five qualifying vehicles, and Chrysler Group had four. Offerings from General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Kia and Nissan also made the list.

The nonprofit insurance group, funded by auto insurers, tightened its top pick criteria for the second time since it started the award for the 2006 model year.

This year vehicles must have “good” ratings in the institute's rollover testing. Getting that rate requires doubling the roof strength required by the U.S. government, the group said in a statement.

That adds to existing requirements for receiving the “good” label in front, side and rear crashes and having electronic stability control.

Toyota was the only automaker among the six biggest in the United States that didn't have a winner. Before this year, Toyota, the world's top-producing automaker, had top safety picks in every year but 2007. The Camry almost qualified, the insurance group said. But it received a “marginal” rating in a rear crash test because the seats and headrests provided less than desirable protection against whiplash.

Here is a list of the 2010 top safety picks:

Large cars

-- Buick LaCrosse

-- Ford Taurus

-- Lincoln MKS

-- Volvo S80

Mid-sized cars

-- Audi A3

-- Chevrolet Malibu built after October 2009

-- Chrysler Sebring four-door version with optional electronic stability control (ESC)

-- Dodge Avenger with optional ESC

-- Mercedes C-class

-- Subaru Legacy

-- Subaru Outback

-- Volkswagen Jetta

-- Volkswagen Passat sedan

-- Volvo C30

Small cars

-- Honda Civic four-door version with optional ESC; excludes Civic Si

-- Kia Soul

-- Nissan Cube

-- Subaru Impreza excludes Impreza WRX

-- Volkswagen Golf sedan

Mid-sized SUVs

-- Dodge Journey

-- Subaru Tribeca

-- Volvo XC60

-- Volvo XC90

Small SUVs

-- Honda Element

-- Jeep Patriot with optional side thorax airbags

-- Subaru Forester

-- Volkswagen Tiguan

By Chrissie Thompson- Automotive News