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 |  Jun 13 2010, 8:53 PM

The latest vehicles to earn membership into the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) 2010 Top Safety Pick Award club are Volkswagen, Audi and Hyundai.

Earning the highest rating possible from the non-profit research organization are the 2010 Audi A4 and Q5, Hyundai Tucson, Lincoln MKT, and Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen. Also making the list are the 2010 Ford Flex and Fusion.

Vehicles that are recognized with this award perform best when it comes to protecting passengers in the IIHS’s front, side, and rear crash test evaluations, as well as roof-strength test evaluations. These vehicles must also come standard with electronic stability control.

Says Mark Barnes, COO, Volkswagen Group of America, about their win: “From the initial vehicle designs in Germany, all the way to the production plants, Volkswagen upholds safety to the highest level of importance. To have such a distinguished group as the IIHS recognize the 2010 Jetta SportWagen with the Top Safety Pick award is a realization of the care, safety, and precision we strive for with every Volkswagen we build.”

In order to earn membership into this exclusive club, vehicles must earn “Good” (the IIHS’s highest rating in testing) for roof strength in rollover crashes. To measure roof strength, a metal plate is pushed against one corner of a vehicle’s roof at a constant speed. The maximum force sustained by the roof before 5 inches of crush is compared to the vehicle’s weight to find the strength-to-weight ratio. This is a good assessment of vehicle structural protection in rollover crashes. Good rated vehicles have roofs that can withstand a force equal to at least 4 times the vehicle’s weight. For comparison, the current federal standard is 1.5 times weight.

[Source: IIHS, Volkswagen]