family cars are charged with protecting our most precious cargo – our children, our loved ones and our friends. Automakers design the safety systems of the sedans that are intended primarily for family use with this in mind, helping to make them some of the safest vehicles out on the road. A large number of the top safety performers in crash testing, both federal and otherwise, hail from the family car segment.
The safest family cars on the market are those that have earned a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Let’s take a look at 10 family sedans that can boast this level of recognition from the IIHS.
Photos courtesy of respective manufacturers
01. 2011 Chevrolet Malibu
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu scores a “Good” rating in both frontal offset and side impact collision tests, as well as in roof strength crush tests performed by the IIHS. Passengers are protected by a network of six airbags (two up front, two front side airbags and side curtain airbags along the length of the cabin).
The 2011 Malibu also comes with StabiliTrak electronic stability control, traction control and the OnStar telematics system. The latter is capable of automatically notifying emergency personnel in the event that airbag deployment is detected. OnStar’s built-in GPS system can even direct first responders to the exact location of the vehicle.
02. 2010 Chrysler Sebring
The 2010 Chrysler Sebring features a full complement of airbags. Advanced multistage front airbags are there to keep forward occupants safe, and they combined with supplemental seat-mounted side airbags to create a cocoon of protection around the front of the passenger compartment. Those riding in the rear benefit from side curtain airbags and a steel safety cage.
The 2010 Chrysler Sebring merits a “Good” rating in all three crucial IIHS crash tests. When combined with the vehicle’s optional Electronic Stability Control, this is enough to earn it Top Safety Pick status. The Sebring also comes with a tire pressure warning system to monitor each of the vehicle’s four tires for proper inflation.
03. 2011 Ford Fusion
The 2011 Ford Fusion was completely redesigned for the previous model year, and the latest edition benefits from the same extensively updated platform. AdvanceTrac traction control and Electronic Stability Control are standard equipment, along with the automatic SOS Post-Crash Alert System, and these features can additionally be complemented by a Blind Sport Information System, a rear view camera and rear parking sensors. All-wheel drive can be ordered as an option to help improve the sedan’s traction.
The 2011 Ford Fusion also comes with side curtain airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags and traditional forward airbags. The Fusion’s “Good” score in side impact, frontal offset and roof strength tests make it an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
04. 2011 Hyundai Sonata
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is an all-new sedan that has been designed with safety in mind. Active front head restraints work to prevent whiplash in an accident and six airbags (four for forward occupants and dual side curtain airbags that protect passengers both front and back) are present and accounted for. The Sonata scored a “Good” rating in each IIHS collision test.
Also included with every version of the 2011 Sonata are a traction control system, anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control, each of which contributes toward keeping the sedan on the right path no matter how treacherous driving conditions might get. Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist are additionally offered with the Sonata.
05. 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta also rides on a fresh platform, one that is larger than previous versions and which features the latest in Volkswagen’s safety engineering. Systems such as Electronic Stability Control, traction control and anti-lock brakes with Hydraulic Brake Assist are complemented by VW’s Intelligent Crash Response System. This feature activates in the event that a collision is detected, unlocking the Jetta’s doors, activating the hazard lights and cutting off the fuel pump.
Inside, the Jetta offers front side airbags, standard front airbags and side curtain airbags that deploy along the length of the cabin to keep front and rear passengers from suffering head injuries during an accident. The Volkswagen sedan rates “Good” in side impact and frontal offset collision testing as well as in roof strength testing by the IIHS.
06. 2011 Ford Taurus
The 2011 Ford Taurus is a large sedan that offers a generous portion of safety technology. Options on the Taurus include a Blind Spot Information System, reverse sensors that can detect objects and traffic behind the vehicle and a rear view camera. AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control is included as standard equipment in order to prevent wheel spin as well as help drivers maintain control of the sedan at all times. The SOS Post-Crash Alert is also provided free of charge.
The 2011 Taurus offers a “Good” rating from the IIHS in frontal offset impact, side impact and roof crush testing. Passengers are protected from harm by an array of six airbags: two up front, two side-mounted airbags for the driver and the front passenger, and side curtain airbags that span the length of the cabin.
07. 2011 Toyota Avalon
The 2011 Toyota Avalon is the largest sedan in the Japanese automaker’s fleet, and this flagship model features Toyota’s Star Safety System. This equipment group includes Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. The Avalon also comes with Smart Stop Technology, which automatically powers down the vehicle’s engine should the accelerator and the brake pedal be depressed at the same time.
The 2011 Toyota Avalon includes the complement of airbags that one would expect to find in a large sedan – front and side airbags for forward occupants, and side curtain airbags for all occupants – and it adds an additional seventh airbag for the driver’s knee. The Avalon scores as “Good” in the three IIHS crash tests used to determine Top Safety Pick status.
08. 2010 Volkswagen Passat
The 2010 Volkswagen Passat offers mid-size accommodations and a “Good” rating in roof strength testing, frontal offset impact and side impact crash testing. This IIHS Top Safety Pick offers standard front and front side airbags, as well as side curtain airbags. It also provides the option of installing additional side airbags for rear seat passengers, bringing the total number of units available in the vehicle to eight.
The 2010 Volkswagen Passat additionally offers an electronic stability control system and traction control in order to help assist drivers through difficult conditions and situations out on the road. Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution are also provided free of charge, as is a tire pressure monitoring system.
09. 2011 Mercury Milan
The 2011 Mercury Milan comes with standard safety technologies like AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control and anti-lock brakes. The Milan also provides a Personal Safety System that combines the vehicle’s dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags with its seat belt pretensioners, energy-management retractors and a crash severity sensor. In addition, the sedan’s SOS Post-Crash Alert System automatically activates the horn and emergency flashers in the event of a serious crash.
Together, these features help the 2011 Mercury Milan score a rating of “Good” in IIHS crash tests, which include roof strength crush testing, frontal offers and side impact crash testing.
10. 2011 Subaru Legacy
The 2011 Subaru Legacy comes with standard all-wheel drive, a Traction Control System and Vehicle Dynamics Control, each of which contribute significantly to helping drivers avoid an accident. A tire pressure monitoring system and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist are also provided with each edition of the Legacy.
The Legacy’s passenger compartment offers dual-stage front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags for both forward occupants and side curtain airbags along both sides of the vehicle’s cabin. Together with Subaru’s ring-shaped reinforcement frame, the Legacy boasts “Good” scores in frontal offset crash testing, side impact testing and roof strength tests by the IIHS.