NWautos: Seattle's local source for new and used autos


December 11, 2007 7:25 PM

Top safety picks of 2008

The Honda Accord was one of 34 cars awarded the Top Safety Pick for 2008.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named 34 vehicles winners of their Top Safety Pick award for 2008. Since last year, manufacturers have worked to introduce new and safer vehicle designs. Overall, Ford and its subsidiary Volvo received eight safety awards, followed by Honda and its subsidiary Acura with seven. Cars, minivans, SUVs and, for the first time, pickup trucks were eligible to win the label.

The IIHS recognizes vehicles that best protect passengers in front, side and rear crashes based on individual tests of each area. This year, the vehicles also had to be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) to qualify as a winner.

ESC, a preventive crash system that consists of sensors and a microcomputer, helps drivers avoid skidding and losing vehicle control during emergency maneuvers. IIHS research indicates that ESC reduces the risk of fatal multiple-vehicle crashes by 32 percent and fatal single-vehicle crashes by 56 percent. "If all vehicles were equipped with ESC, as many as 10,000 fatal crashes could be avoided each year," said Adrian Lund, president of IIHS.

Another important safety advance in 2008 models is the inclusion of side airbags as standard equipment. Steps are also being taken to protect passengers during rear-impact crashes. For example, several manufacturers, including Honda, BMW and Audi, improved the design of their seat/head restraints, which help prevent the minor neck sprains and strains that often occur in rear-end crashes. Another 23 vehicles would have been labeled 2008 safety picks had they made similar improvements. Here are the 34 top safety picks listed by car category:

Large cars

Midsize cars

Midsize convertibles

Small car


Midsize SUVs

Small SUVs

Large pickup

  • Toyota Tundra

* with optional electronic stability control
** built after August 2007
*** built after December 2007