Since safety is a huge consideration in the purchase of any new car, truck, SUV, CUV, or minivan, consumers have some great news in the most recent list of 2011 top safest vehicles. In what’s actually a stunning achievement by automakers, a total of 66 new 2011 models now earn Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2011 top safest vehicles list includes 40 cars, 25 SUVs and one minivan.

In large cars, twelve models are represented. There are 15 midsize cars, one minivan (Toyota Sienna), one minicar (Ford Fiesta) one large SUV (Volkswagen Touareg), 18 mid-size SUVs, and six small SUVs (Honda Element, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, and Volkswagen Tiguan).

Here’s the rest of the list of 2011 top safest vehicles as designated by IIHS:

Large Cars

Buick LaCrosse, Buick Regal
BMW 5 series (except 4-wheel drive and V8)
Cadillac CTS sedan
Ford Taurus
Hyundai Genesis
Infiniti M37/M56 (except M56x 4-wheel drive)
Lincoln MKS
Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe and sedan
Toyota Avalon
Volvo S80

Midsize Cars

Audi A3, Audi A4 sedan
Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler 200 4-door
Dodge Avenger
Ford Fusion
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Lincoln MKZ
Mercedes-Benz C-class
Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta sedan and SportWagen
Volvo C30

Small Cars

Chevrolet Cruze
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Forte sedan, Kia Soul
Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (except 4-wheel drive)
Nissan Cube
Scion tC, Scion xB
Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback (except WRX)
Toyota Corolla
Volkswagen Golf 4-door, Volkswagen GTI 4-door

Midsize SUVs

Audi Q5
Cadillac SRX
Chevrolet Equinox
Dodge Journey
Ford Explorer, Ford Flex
GMC Terrain
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento built after March 2010
Lexus RX
Lincoln MKT
Mercedes-Benz GLK
Subaru Tribeca
Toyota Highlander, Toyota Venza
Volvo XC60, Volvo XC90

In a press release, IIHS cited Hyundai’s quick strides in occupant protection as a case in point. In 2009, the small SUV Hyundai Tucson (and corporate sibling Kia Sportage) earned a poor roof strength rating with the weakest roof of all small SUVs evaluated that year. But a 2011 redesign resulted in a Good rating and Top Safety Pick designation for both models.

Similarly, the midsize Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento SUV, with an improved roof, and the redesigned Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima midsize cars now sport Top Safety Pick designations. In the large car category, Hyundai Genesis is also on the list.

Chrysler added torso airbags to bolster side crash protection in the redesigned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee midsize SUV, thus earning 2011 Top Safety Pick status.

Ford’s all-new 2011 Explorer midsize SUV is another great family vehicle. With its new design, Explorer, which had never before earned Top Safety Pick, now achieves the status. Upgraded roofs in Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, two other midsize SUVs, and the midsize Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ also earned these models Top Safety Pick designations. Large cars, Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS, are also on the list.

Forbes, working out its own list of safest 2011 vehicles, excluded all but cars, and highlights three, saying, “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.”

From budget to luxury, four-passenger to eight, there are plenty of great consumer choices among the 2011 top safest vehicles.

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