luxury cars offer some of the most highly developed safety equipment on the market. In addition to necessities such as advanced airbag systems and strong chassis and passenger compartment designs, luxury car companies invest in the research and production of high tech, forward-thinking active safety systems that can serve as watchful electronic eyes keeping tabs on vehicle occupants at all times. Some of these systems can seem as though they were lifted directly out of a science fiction movie, but their contribution to safer driving is unmistakable.
Every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hands out its Top Safety Pick award for the vehicles that score a rating of “Good” in frontal offset impact, side impact and roof crush strength testing. Let’s take a look at ten luxury cars that earned the Top Safety Pick status for the 2011 model year.
Photos courtesy of respective manufacturers
01. 2011 Audi A3
The 2011 Audi A3 is a compact premium hatchback that comes with advanced dual stage airbags up front, as well as side thorax airbags that are mounted on the side of each front seat. Second row passengers also receive side airbag protection, and Audi’s Sideguard head curtain airbags along both sides of the passenger compartment bring the total number of airbags in the A3 to eight.
The 2011 Audi A3 also comes with a reinforced impact protection shell, Electronic Stabilization Control, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution and Brake Assist. Quattro all-wheel drive is an option for additional traction, and available ultrasonic parking assist can detect objects located out of sight when reversing the vehicle.
02. 2011 BMW 5 Series
The 2011 BMW 5 Series is one of the most popular mid-size luxury sport sedans on the market, and it doesn’t skimp when it comes to safety equipment. All editions of the 5 Series come with front and side impact airbags for forward occupants, along with a Head Protection System of airbags for those riding front and rear. Active head restraints also work to prevent whiplash for the driver and front passenger.
High tech safety equipment abounds in the BMW 5 Series. In addition to standard Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control, top of the line versions of the car benefit from technologies such as Brake Fade Compensation, Brake Drying and Active Blind Spot Detection. All-wheel drive can also be ordered. More exotic features that are available with the car include a Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection system, as well as a Head-Up display, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
03. 2011 Cadillac CTS Sedan
The 2011 Cadillac CTS sedan bridges the gap between entry-level luxury and mid-size opulence. Airbags that are installed on the Cadillac CTS include driver and passenger front units, seat-mounted side airbags for the two forward positions and full-length side curtain airbags. Cadillac also offers GM’s OnStar service, which can intervene in a number of ways in an emergency situation – even offering the ability to automatically contact emergency personnel should an accident occur.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS also comes with StabiliTrak electronic stability control, a traction control system and rear parking sensors. Adaptive headlights can swivel in sync with the steering wheel in order to better illuminate the area directly in front of the automobile, and all-wheel drive is optional for drivers who want to add extra grip to the sedan platform.
03. 2011 Infiniti M Sedan
The Infiniti M was completely redesigned for the 2011 model year, and with it came a host of new safety-related technology. Infiniti refers to the ensemble of features as the Infiniti Safety Shield, which includes Intelligent Cruise Control with Distance Control Assist, a Lane Departure Prevention feature which keeps the car between the lines on the road, a Blind Spot Intervention System and Intelligent Brake Assist to complement the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system. Also included on every version of the 2011 Infiniti M is a Vehicle Dynamic Control and a traction control system.
In terms of airbag protection, the Infiniti M comes with the Infiniti Advanced Air Bag System, which offers front and side airbags for the forward passengers along with a roof-mounted side curtain airbag that can deploy on both sides of the vehicle’s cabin.
05. 2011 Volvo S80
Volvo and safety are synonymous in the automotive industry, and given that the 2011 Volvo S80 is the company’s flagship vehicle it is no surprise that it receives a long list of protective features. The S80 can be found with equipment such as a Lane Departure Warning System, Driver Alert Control (which monitors for drowsy pilots behind the wheel) and a Blind Spot Information System. Optional tech such as parking assistance, a rear-view camera, all-wheel drive and even a unique heartbeat detection system that can inform drivers of an assailant hiding in the backseat of the sedan while it is parked also form part of the Volvo safety package.
In addition, each 2011 Volvo S80 comes with forward airbags, seat-mounted side airbags up front and side curtain airbags along each side of the vehicle’s passenger compartment to protect against head injuries.
06. 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz mid-size luxury sedan offers a number of advanced safety features. Optional 4MATIC all-wheel enhances grip and traction, while the Electronic Stability Program feature instantly intervenes to prevent a loss of control while driving. Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe brake system uses radar monitoring to automatically keep the E-Class a safe distance from the car ahead of it, while also allowing the brakes to maximize stopping power in a short amount of time. The car can also audibly warn drivers of an impending impact, as well as tighten seatbelts, improve seating positions and engage the active front head restraints should sensors determine that a collision is likely.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class also steps things up through the inclusion of 9 airbags in its passenger compartment, with a driver’s knee air bag and optional rear side impact airbags adding to the usual assortment of front and side airbag protection.
07. 2011 Lincoln MKS
The 2011 Lincoln MKS full-size sedan is marketed as offering the brand’s Personal Safety System, which consists of driver and passenger front and side airbags, a system of seatbelt pretensioners and a sensor that detects the severity of a crash. Side curtain airbags are also provided with each version of the car, for both front and rear occupants.
The 2011 Lincoln MKS uses AdvanceTrac stability control to manage traction and keep the vehicle pointing straight and true in all weather conditions. All-wheel drive is available as an option. The MKS also comes with the SOS Post Crash Alert System, which automatically flashes the vehicle’s emergency lights and the horn should any of the vehicle’s airbags deploy.
08. 2011 Audi A4
The 2011 Audi A4 is the second vehicle from the German luxury brand on our list, and it offers many of the same features as are found in the A3: Sideguard head curtain airbags that deploy along the length of the cabin, side thorax and advanced dual stage airbags up front and side airbags for those riding in the second row of seating. Electronic Stabilization Control is standard, and quattro all-wheel drive is available as an option on the A4.
The compact Audi A4 also comes with Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-Pressure Distribution and an available rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control and Audi Side Assist blind spot monitoring system.
09. 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class entry-level luxury sedan comes equipped with a several innovative safety features, such as its Sport-tuned Agility Control suspension that can automatically adapt suspension response to road and driving conditions. 4MATIC all-wheel drive is also available as an option on certain models of the C-Class, and Mercedes-Benz’s Electronic Stability Control Program is included free of charge.
Like the larger E-Class, the 2011 C-Class crams nine airbags into its passenger compartment: two up front, two on either side of the forward occupants, a driver’ side knee airbag, optional rear side airbags and of course full-cabin side curtain airbags.
10. 2011 Lincoln MKZ
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ offers mid-size luxury accommodations in a safe sedan package. AdvanceTrac traction control is paired with Electronic Stability Control and can also be matched with an available all-wheel drive system that can intelligently transfer engine torque from front to rear and from one side of the car to another. Other advanced safety technologies that can be found on the MKZ are rain sensing windshield wipers and a Blind Spot Information System.
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ’s passive safety features include six standard airbags (four up front, plus side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers) as well as a high strength steel safety cage that absorbs and deflects crash energy.