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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its “top safety pick” on Wednesday to 19 passenger cars and eight sport utility for the 2010 model year. The institute substantially reduced the number of awards compared with 2009, because of tougher requirements for roof strength.

The vehicles are selected for best protecting motorists in front, side and rear crash tests based on Institute evaluations during the year. The vehicles are required to have electronic stability control, or ESC, to qualify for the award. Earlier this year, the Institute said vehicles would need to receive its highest score in its roof strength evaluation to qualify the safety pick designation.

“With the addition of our roof strength evaluation, our crash test results now cover all four of the most common kinds of crashes,” said Institute president Adrian Lund. “Consumers can use this list to zero in on the vehicles that are on the top rung for safety.”

Ford takes in the glory for Volvo’s safety legacy and heritage earning 6 awards by the Institute for Highway Safety. Subaru and VW/Audi received 5 awards each with some close calls by Chrysler(4) and Honda (2).

Interestingly, some well-known and very reputable companies were left out of review by the IIHS including BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and even Toyota. Below is a breakdown of the top companies and for what unique reasons they received these awards..

1) Ford said in a statement it is “committed to providing customers with safe vehicles for a broad range of real-world crash conditions.”

2) Subaru was the only automaker with an IIHS winner in all four vehicle classes in which it competes.

The automaker, which has bucked the brutal U.S. sales market with a 13 percent increase during the first 10 months of 2009, attributed its safety success to a unique engine design that sits low in the vehicle chassis and moves down and under occupants in a frontal collision.

3) Volkswagen scored with the 4-door versions of the Jetta, Passat and Golf, the Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Tiguan, a small SUV. Mark Barnes, Volkswagen of America’s chief operating officer, said the “safety of our cars is of the utmost concern, from the initial design stages all the way through the maintenance procedures at dealerships.”

If you’re thinking of purchasing or leasing a new vehicle, saving cash on your auto insurance policy can be as simple as choosing [Prostar Insurance of course!] a vehicle with high safety ratings as insurance companies see this data and adjust YOUR premium based on this important info. Hence, the “INSURANCE Institute for Highway Safety”

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