Chevy Cruze makes the list of top 5 safest cars

Top Five Safest Cars for 2011
Forbes: Hannah Elliot – January 21, 2010

BMW 5-Series

Segment: Large Luxury Sedan

MSRP: $45,050



Chevrolet Cruze

Segment: Small Sedan

MSRP: $16,275



Lincoln MKS

Segment: Large Luxury Sedan

MSRP: $41,500



Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Segment: Mid-size Luxury Sedan

MSRP: $33,990



Subaru Legacy

Segment: Mid-size Sedan

MSRP: $19,995

Behind the Numbers
To compile our list of the safest cars this year, we started with all vehicles chosen by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety as “Top Safety Picks” for 2011. We then excluded all crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks in order to limit our list to cars. Then we extracted any model that did not receive perfect scores of “good” in all front-, side-, rear-crash and rollover tests, or any that lacked electronic stability control, which IIHS says significantly reduces crash risk. The cars still standing after all of that are our winners.
Front evaluations involve a 40-mph frontal offset crash and subsequent slow-motion film analysis to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the crash. Side evaluations are based on crashes where the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. In the roof strength test a metal plate is pushed against the roof at a rate of 0.2 inches per second. To earn a top rating for rollover protection, the roof must withstand a force of four times the vehicle’s weight before reaching five inches of crush.

Rear tests use a dummy that measures neck pressure; the test simulates a collision where a stationary vehicle is struck from behind at 20 mph.

The severity of the tests (IIHS tests are more severe than those administered by the government’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) has pressured automakers to improve crash scores as well. When IIHS released its first roof crush results in March 2009, only one-third of the SUVs tested had roofs that earned a “good” rating; these days, the majority of SUVs earn top roof strength ratings. Likewise, many cars failed IIHS side tests in 2003; now more than 90 percent of 2011 model cars, 94 percent of SUVs and 56 percent of pickups now have standard head and torso side airbags, all of which enable them to pass the test more easily.

In a study released this month, Consumer Reports found that 65 percent of consumers rate safety among their top three priorities when considering a car, the highest of any purchase consideration factor. (Quality came in as the second-highest factor, with 57 percent of respondents saying they cared about it most.) Those safety-conscious drivers would do well to consider the BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS or Subaru Legacy — we rate them as three of the safest cars on the road today.