IIHS names 13 safest cars

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rounds up its testing of 2013 model cars, finding 13 that meet its highest criteria for safety.

2013 Volvo S60
The 2013 Volvo S60 achieved the IIHS' Top Safety Pick Plus award. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Thirteen cars earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) new Top Safety Pick Plus award, while another 117 vehicles were named as Top Safety Picks. Top Safety Pick Plus winners included such cars as the Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Volkswagen Passat.

To earn the Top Safety Pick Plus award, cars must get the top rating of Good in four of five crash tests, while achieving at least Acceptable in a fifth test. The IIHS recently added the Small Overlap Frontal crash test, and has only subjected 29 cars to it, which limited the pool of potential Top Safety Pick Plus winners. The only cars to earn this award were in the midsize sedan category, the segment where the IIHS began the new test.

The cars earning the standard Top Safety Pick award ranged from the diminutive Fiat 500 to the Ford F-150 pickup truck, although IIHS points out that heavier vehicles will generally fare better than lighter vehicles in a crash. Cars in the tests employ multiple airbags, crumple zones, and side reinforcement to protect occupants in crashes.

The IIHS 2013 Top Safety Pick page lists all the winners, with links to greater detail on each car's performance in the tests. For most cars, the IIHS includes video footage of the tests.

The 2013 Nissan Altima scored Acceptable in this Small Overlap Frontal test by the IIHS, earning it a Top Safety Pick Plus award.

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