This year, the Chevrolet Volt seems to be taking all of the awards; the North American Car of the Year, Green Car of the Year and others. But there are plenty of other 2011 models out there that are causing quite a stir and driving away with their own awards. While engineering and innovation are important factors when picking a winner for different car awards; they are not factors that concern the everyday car buying consumer. Factors like value and safety are some of the most important factors a car buyer will look at when making the decision to purchase a car. And while these cars may not make the Best Car of the Year award list, they are getting their own awards in categories that really matter to the consumer.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety picks cars every year to be on their Top Safety picks list. For 2011 66 different models earned a spot on this coveted list. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests the safety of these vehicles based on their performance in high-speed front and side crash tests and rollover tests. The IIHS also evaluates how well the seat and head restraints protect against neck injuries in rear impacts. All vehicles place on the Top Safety Picks list must score the Institute's highest rating of 'Good' in all test and come standard with electronic stability control.
The IIHS has stricter safety tests than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; but they also create a list of passing vehicles from their tests. The IIHS put each of its winners in a class; in the Large Cars class, the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300 and Hyundai Genesis were just three of the 14 winners. In the Small Cars class; the Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Forte, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen GTI were a few of the 14 winners. The Ford Fiesta, Toyota Sienna, and Volkswagen Touareg were the only winners in their classes of Minicars, Minivans and Large SUVs, respectively. In the Midsize Car category a wide array of vehicles won from many different auto makers including, Audi, Hyundai, Ford, Subaru, Mercedes and Volvo; for a total of 15 cars. The Midsize SUV category was the largest with 18 cars making the list. Models on this list included Audi Q5, Dodge Journey, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Highlander, and Lincoln MKT. The Small SUV category had only 6 winners and the included the Honda Element, Jeep Patriot, Subaru Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan. No trucks were chosen as Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute. Electronic stability control is not commonly found on trucks and trucks do not always fare well in rollover tests.
A test of value was also conducted on all 2011 models. U.S. News and World Report assembled a list of Best Cars for the Money and selected a car for 18 different categories. The value of the cars was based on the five-year total cost of ownership, not just how many premium standard features came on each model. To put this list together U.S. news also used their automotive rankings they receive from customers on satisfaction. The best cars for the money of 2011 include: Ford Fiesta and Taurus, Honda Fit and Civic, Buick Regal, Chevrolet Malibu, Traverse, Tahoe and Silverado 1500, Hyundai Elantra Touring, Infiniti EX, Suzuki Equator, Volkswagen GTI, Toyota Prius, Kia Sedona, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Lexus RX350, and Mazda MX-5 Miata. This list doesn't highlight the flashiest cars on the market; but considering how much longer consumers are now keeping their cars the more value they can get out of it in the long haul beats a car that has the latest and greatest technology.