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Six small cars earn Top Safety Pick

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a new round of car safety tests, and found six new small cars earned its Top Safety Pick award.

2012 Honda Civic
The 2012 Honda Civic earns a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. Sarah Tew/CNET

Think you're safer in that Chevy Suburban than in a Honda Civic? Think again. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its latest round of Top Safety Picks, and in the small car category, six newly tested cars achieved top marks in all the tests.

The six new winners in the small car category are the 2012 Honda Civic and Ford Focus and the 2011 models of the Hyundai Elantra, Lexus CT 200h, Nissan Juke, and Toyota Prius. They join a group of 14 previously tested Top Safety Pick winners in the small car category, including the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Cruze. The IIHS notes that a significant number of extremely fuel-efficient cars earned the award.

The cars are tested for front, side, and rear impacts, as well as rollover susceptibility, the latter test being a particular bugaboo for SUVs. To earn the Top Safety Pick award, the cars must get a rating of Good in each test, and also must have an electronic stability control system.

The IIHS notes that small car safety has been improving significantly over the last decade as automakers fit the cars with airbags, side impact beams, and electronic stability systems.