ARLINGTON, Va. — The Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego equipped with optional side airbags, along with the Saab 9-3 , Subaru Legacy , and Honda Civic sedan, were among the highest rated 2006 vehicles in a new system of safety testing announced on Sunday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Absent from the winner's circle were brands that trumpet their safety technology, particularly Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. No minivans met the IIHS's criteria to earn a top safety pick, either.
The IIHS designated 10 automobiles to receive the new awards. Volkswagen AG and its luxury brand Audi was the clear winner, taking five of the 10 awards. The Audi A6 , Audi A3 and Audi A4 took silver.
The IIHS said in a statement that its new system highlights what it considers to be the safest vehicles overall based on their performance in a combination of tests, including front, side and rear crashes. Pickups and SUVs weren't included in this round of testing.
Gold winners have earned good ratings in the IIHS's frontal offset and side-impact crash tests, and their seat/head restraints are rated "Good" for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.
What this means to you: This test simplifies things for consumers and puts pressure on automakers to invest more in safety technology.