New Car Top Picks of 2006

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

December 5, 2005

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has come out with a list of the top 10 safest cars of 2006, just in time for the gift giving season.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is known for crash tests but soon they'll be known for something else.

"This is the first time that we've given recommendations for which vehicles offer the best overall crash protection," said David Zuby, the President of the IIHS.

The Institute looked at crash test records from 2006 model small, midsize, and large cars, plus minivans.

"There are 2 ratings for safety pick this year, gold and silver," said Zuby.

A gold metal means the car received the Institute's top rating of good in all three crash tests - front, side, and rear. A silver metal means the car rated good in front and side crash tests, but only acceptable in rear crashes.

So how did they do? In the large car category the gold went to the Ford Five Hundred and it's twin model, the Mercury Montego, both with the optional side airbags. The Audi A-6 took home the silver.

As for the midsize cars, 7 of them made the list. The SAAB 9-3 and the Subaru Legacy got the gold. The silver metal went to the Audi A-3 and A-4, Chevy Malibu, and Volkswagen's Jetta and Passat.

The only small car to take the gold was the Honda Civic 4 door. As for the family minivans, none of them were chosen as a top safety pick because they don't meet the right criteria.

"They had good front protection, and good rear crash protection but they didn't quite measure up in the side impact test," said Zuby.

That's one of the main reasons why the other cars are a top pick, fairly new designs and side airbags to protect people's heads in severe collisions.

SUVs and pickup trucks weren't included in the top awards because side impact crash tests have not been tested by the Institute on those vehicles yet.

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