Small Green Vehicles Earn Top Safety Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently awarded six of the thirteen small cars it evaluated with the title of Top Safety Pick. Cars tested are put through four types of crash scenarios – a front impact at 40 miles per hour, a side impact 31 miles per hour, a rear impact at 20 miles per hour, and rollover strength four times the vehicle’s weight.

The insurance organization notes that only a few years ago small cars were scoring rather poorly, but advancements in design, like in the way seats protect occupants, and other feature upgrades, such as airbags, have propelled fuel efficient cars closer to being considered safe when compared to larger, heavier vehicles. In fact, of the thirteen small cars evaluated this year, none earned poor ratings in any of the crash tests.

Lexus ct 200h

image via Lexus

The winning cars this year include the 2012 Ford Focus and 2012 Honda Civic, as well as the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, 2011 Lexus CT 200h, 2011 Nissan Juke and 2011 Toyota Prius. All of the cars, with the exception of the Juke, have a standard highway fuel economy of over 40 MPG.

While no electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids were included in this year’s top picks, it was nice to see two hybrids make it, and hopefully within a couple of years the cars will start to be seen not only as environmentally friends, but safe as well.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.


  • Reply June 2, 2011


    “have a standard highway fuel economy of over 40 miles per hour.” I suppose this is a new unit of measure. u00a0I wonder if it is approved by the Bureau of Standards?

    • Reply June 2, 2011


      Indeed. Thanks for noting the error – it was corrected.

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