IIHS Top Safety Picks: Saturn Vue and Outlook

IIHS Crash Test Dummy

The Saturn Outlook, Saturn Vue, and seventy other vehicles earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award for 2009. Top Safety Pick recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, and rear crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests. Winners also have to have electronic stability control (ESC), which research shows significantly reduces crash risk.

The Institute's frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle's overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a Hybrid III dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented SID-IIs dummies, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle's structural performance during the impact.

Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry — the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seat/head restraints with good or acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. Seats without good or acceptable geometry are rated poor overall because they can't be positioned to protect many people.

2009 IIHS Top Safety Pick Winners

Large cars

  • Acura RL
  • Audi A6
  • Cadillac CTS
  • Ford Taurus
  • Lincoln MKS
  • Mercury Sable
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Volvo S80

Midsize cars

  • Acura TL, TSX
  • Audi A3, A4
  • BMW 3 series 4-door models
  • Ford Fusion with optional electronic stability control
  • Honda Accord 4-door models
  • Mercedes C class
  • Mercury Milan with optional electronic stability control
  • Saab 9-3
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Volkswagen Jetta, Passat

Midsize convertibles

  • Saab 9-3
  • Volkswagen Eos
  • Volvo C70

Small cars

  • Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
  • Mitsubishi Lancer with optional electronic stability control
  • Scion xB
  • Subaru Impreza with optional electronic stability control
  • Toyota Corolla with optional electronic stability control
  • Volkswagen Rabbit


  • Honda Fit with optional electronic stability control


  • Honda Odyssey
  • Hyundai Entourage
  • Kia Sedona

Large SUVs

  • Audi Q7
  • Buick Enclave
  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • GMC Acadia
  • Saturn Outlook

Midsize SUVs

  • Acura MDX, RDX
  • BMW X3, X5
  • Ford Edge, Flex, Taurus X
  • Honda Pilot
  • Hyundai Santa Fe, Veracruz
  • Infiniti EX35
  • Lincoln MKX
  • Mercedes M class
  • Nissan Murano
  • Saturn VUE
  • Subaru Tribeca
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser, Highlander
  • Volvo XC90

Small SUVs

  • Ford Escape
  • Honda CR-V, Element
  • Mazda Tribute
  • Mercury Mariner
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Subaru Forester
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Volkswagen Tiguan

Large pickups

  • Ford F-150
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Toyota Tundra

Small pickup

  • Toyota Tacoma

Source: IIHS

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