The IIHS names the safest cars for 2013

By , Posted on 15 January 2013

[Editor's note: Mark Chalon Smith is a regular contributor to]

Thirteen cars -- including mid-sized models from Ford, Dodge, Nissan, Honda and Volkswagen -- have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) new "Top Safety Pick Plus" award for 2013. A total of 117 vehicles received the IIHS' more familiar "Top Safety Pick" rating for the same year.

IIHS President Adrian Lund says cars were given the Top Safety Pick Plus designation if they scored "good" ratings in at least four of five crash tests judging driver and passenger protection. The vehicles needed no less than an "acceptable" rating in the fifth test. Lund noted that a new test, dubbed "the small overlap" test, was added this year to see how cars could handle a front-corner collision, either with an object like a tree or utility pole or another car.

"These vehicles are much safer choices than most vehicles on the market just five years ago," Lund said in a statement.

Lund explained that the Top Safety Pick Plus award is a work-in-progress, with the added testing performed so far on only 29 cars in the mid-size sedan category. More winners will be announced as testing continues over the coming months. Here are the first to receive the honor, listed alphabetically:

  • Acura TL

  • Chrysler 200 4-door

  • Dodge Avenger

  • Ford Fusion (built after December 2012)

  • Honda Accord 2-door

  • Honda Accord 4-door

  • Kia Optima

  • Nissan Altima 4-door (built after November 2012)

  • Subaru Legacy (built after August 2012)

  • Subaru Outback (built after August 2012)

  • Suzuki Kizashi

  • Volkswagen Passat (built after October 2012)

  • Volvo S60

Safety ratings can impact insurance rates

Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute (III), says consumers should pay attention to ratings compiled by the IIHS because insurers take the overall safety of a car into consideration when underwriting policies.

"There are many factors that go into auto rates, including the cost to repair a car, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft," she explains. "How much damage a car receives in an accident has an impact on how badly injured a person can be as well. With rising medical costs, in connection with personal injury protection coverage, it can have a huge bearing" on the cost of a policy.

The IIHS says these cars were not judged with the small overlap test, but did need to earn "good" ratings for other tests, including those that judged occupant protection during a side impact, a rollover, and a rear and front collision. Here are some of the vehicles designated as Top Safety Picks (for the full list of 117, see IIHS' Top Safety Pick):

  • Honda Fit

  • Chevrolet Volt

  • Audi A3

  • Volkswagen Golf

  • Hyundai Sonata

  • Toyota Prius

  • Acura TSX

  • Buick Regal

  • BMW X3

  • Mercedes E class

  • Ford Escape

  • Honda Ridgeline

  • Subaru Forester

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Des Toups

Des Toups

Managing editor

Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.


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