The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Names Three New Top Safety Picks

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has rated the 2010 Kia Soul and two 2010 hybrids, the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius with their top rating of “Good” in its front, rear and side crash tests. The Institute rates vehicles tested as Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor based on a number of criteria.

All three models will also be awarded the Institute’s coveted Top Safety Pick designation. In order to be designated a Top Safety Pick, vehicles must receive a Good rating in all three crash tests and offer electronic stability control. This feature is standard on all Prius and Soul models. Honda offers the feature on its top line Insight EX models, but it is not an option on the less expensive LX model.

The trio of 2010 models joins a number of 2009 small cars as Top Safety Picks. That list includes the 2009 Ford Focus 2-door, Honda Civic and Mitsubishi Lancer; all of which offer electronic stability control as an option. The 2009 Scion xB, Toyota Corolla, Subaru Impreza and Volkswagen Rabbit round out the list and all offer the feature as standard equipment.

The 2009 Toyota Prius had previously received a Good rating in the front and side impact tests which made it eligible for the IIHS crash test verification program. Under this program, autos that have previously received an IIHS rating are not required to undergo the same test. Instead the automaker may submit its own independent test data for verification by the Insurance Institute’s engineers. Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Institute, says that vehicles in this program are randomly crash tested over the course of the next year. This is done to verify that the information provided by the automaker is valid.

In the Institute’s frontal crash test of the 2010 Honda Insight, the side curtain air bag deployed and adequately protected the driver test dummy from injury. In the side impact test, the Institute determined that there was a low possibility of significant harm to passengers.

In the front impact test crash of the Toyota Prius, the driver test dummy’s head impacted the door pillar and steering wheel. The fully deployed air bag, however, reduced the force of the impact to a level that would not be expected to cause significant harm.

The head of the driver test dummy in the Kia Soul frontal test crash leaned partially out of the open side window. It then impacted the window frame and also impacted the steering wheel although the force was diminished by the air bag. The impact was significant enough that the IIHS determined there was the possibility of injury.

Front impact tests are conducted in a way that evaluates collisions between the test vehicle and one of similar weight. In a real world collision with a larger vehicle the results would likely not be the same. The Institute’s side impact crash test results apply no matter the size of the vehicles being compared.

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