Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) altered its testing process to make it more difficult for new cars to earn a Top Safety Award. Despite this fact, the latest crop of small cars now boasts twice as many Top Safety Pick vehicles than it did in 2006. Of the six small cars that were recently awarded such a title, five are available with a maximum of 40 mpg or more on the highway. Keep reading to review these five new cars that deliver enhanced safety and fuel efficiency.
2011 Toyota Prius
With an impressive 48 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway, the Toyota Prius is the most fuel-efficient Top Safety Pick for the year. As with all vehicles on this list, the Prius earned a top rating of "Good" in all crash test categories performed by the IIHS. The vehicle's long list of standard safety features helps it earn a good reputation among safety hounds. All models come standard with a front-seat Advanced Airbag System, front-side airbags, rear curtain airbags and driver knee airbags. Stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution also come standard.
Learn more about the 2011 Toyota Prius.
2011 Lexus CT 200h
The Lexus CT 200h is a more dressed-up version of the Toyota Prius. As a result, it delivers all of the same safety features available on the Prius (see above), and then some. A pre-collision system comes standard that serves to reduce potential for injury when excessive braking and other scenarios signal an imminent crash. Dynamic radar cruise control is also available, which prevents the vehicle from getting too close to vehicles in front of it when cruise control is enabled. Finally, Lexus also offers Safety Connect for the CT 200h. This feature works like Ford OnStar, and notifies emergency services in the event of a crash.
Learn more about the 2011 Lexus CT 200h.
2011 Hyundai Elantra
A number of safety upgrades made to the 2011 Elantra help propel it to the top of its class when it comes to safety. The list of standard safety features includes six airbags (including front Advanced System airbags), anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, vehicle stability management and a tire pressure monitoring system. Given the vehicle's low initial asking price (around $15,000), this set of features is well above average.
Learn more about the 2011 Hyundai Elantra.
2012 Honda Civic
Over the past couple of years, electronic stability control has become an expected standard feature in the small car class. While slow to adopt this benchmark, the 2012 Honda Civic now offers stability control on base models (last year, the feature was only available on top-of-the-line EX-L models). As a result, the Honda Civic once again earns accolades for its above-average list of standard safety features. All 2012 Civic models also come with anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution and six airbags. Base price for the Civic is around $16,000.
Learn more about the 2012 Honda Civic.
2012 Ford Focus
The redesigned Ford Focus comes with a bolstered standard safety package that helps place it among the safest vehicles in the small vehicle class. Standard features include dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags, side airbags and rear side curtain airbags. Stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system are also now standard for the Focus. Available as an optional upgrade is Ford's MyKey system, which allows parents to place a top speed limitation of 80 mph, as well as limitations on maximum stereo volume.
Learn more about the 2012 Ford Focus.