Ford tops the list of Safest Cars

Fresno, CA For many families safety is one of the top factors when shopping for a new car, but some of the most popular cars don't necessarily offer the best protection. The IIHS standards were a lot tougher this year so a lot less cars qualified for the top safety rating. One big surprise, Toyota was noticeably absent from the list.

American auto maker, Ford, and its Volvo unit received the most awards with six. On Ford's heels were two foreign car builders, Subaru and Volkswagon/Audi, each with five.

In all, 19 passenger cars and 8 sport utility vehicles were awarded the "Top Safety Pick" for their 2010 models.

Also among the winners: Chrysler, with four top safety picks. Other winners included Honda and GM, each with two awards and the Nissan Cube, the Kia Soul and the Mercedes C Class.

But, BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Toyota, the world largest automaker, came up empty.

Adrian Lund, IISH: "The absence of Toyota from this list is a bit of a surprise. They had 11 of these for 2009 and none this year."

Separating the winners from the losers was crash protection; particularly front, side and rear. Vehicles that make the list are all required to have electronic stability control, or ESC.

And for the first time this year, the institute said vehicles must earn its highest score in roof strength evaluation to qualify. More than 9,000 people die each year in crashes where the motor vehicle rolls over.

No doubt the roof test requirement attributed to the steep decline in awards. Last year, 94 vehicles got top prize. This year, less than a third of that amount.

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