Top Safety Picks

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced 10 cars that win its Top Safety Pick award. They are all 2006 models.

The awards are given to automobiles that have good crash protection from all sides, based on performance in Institute tests. The winning vehicles were chosen from current models of small, midsize, large, and minivan styles. There are two large car designs, seven midsize cars, and one small car. No minivans met the Institute's criteria to earn a Top Safety Pick. Pickups and SUVs were not included in this round of awards. The Institute says this doesn't mean minivans are unsafe. It means none of the current designs the Institute tested met the award criteria.

Almost all of the 10 winners are relatively new designs, and they all have side airbags designed to protect people's heads. According to the Institute, this reflects the improvements manufacturers have been making in the side and rear crash protection afforded by their newer cars.

Those receiving a Gold Award are Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego, Saab 9-3, Subaru Legacy, Honda Civic 4-door. The Silver Award recipients are Audi A6, Audi A3, Audi A4, Chevrolet Malibu, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Passat.

For more information, go to .