Lincoln MKS with EcoBoost
Buick LaCrosse First Drive
Twenty-seven of the country's safest cars were named as Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today, and most luxury brand names were notably absent. For all their technology and advanced safety features, they apparently don't offer top-of-the-line crash test performance. American luxury brands actually fared better than either Japanese or German brands, too.
Of course, many luxury cars aren't tested much if at all due to the prohibitively high expense of doing so--most of Porsche's lineup are good examples. But the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (which actually is a Top Safety Pick) and the BMW 3-Series (not on the list) or Cadillac CTS (also not on the list) aren't exactly pricey, nor are many other mainstream luxury models.
Some of the big-name brands that completely failed to make the cut: Lexus, BMW, Jaguar, Saab, Cadillac and Acura. Volvo, on the other hand, made a huge showing, putting four models on the list, including the S80, C30, XC60 and XC90. Subaru put almost all of its models on the list, with the exception of the Impreza WRX.
Chrysler even made the top 27 with the Sebring, but only for the four-door when equipped with optional stability control. Volkswagen did quite well for itself, too, putting the Jetta and Passat sedans, and the Golf four-door among the Top Safety Pick ranks.
Audi only saw one model, the A3, make the cut, while Buick's new LaCrosse confirms it belongs at the head of the class, as did the Lincoln MKS.
No large SUVs--a bread-and-butter segment for many luxury brands--made the Top Safety Pick list at all, though Volvo's XC60 and XC90 crossovers and the Volkswagen Tiguan compact crossover did.
So despite the possible selection-bias in choosing cars to smash for safety ratings and the bias against larger SUVs and large cars--only four full-size sedans made the list--the near-absence of the bulk of the luxury car market from the IIHS's Top Safety Picks seems to indicate that you don't always get what you pay for, at least when it comes to safety.
Looking at it from the other direction, however, about one third of the cars on the Top Safety Pick list are from luxury or near-luxury brands, meaning they are over-represented in relationship to their share of total sales in the market place. But even with this sunny point of view, it's worth noting which brands did and didn't top the list.
See the full list for yourself below.
Chevrolet Malibu built after October 2009
Chrysler Sebring 4-door with optional electronic stability control
Dodge Avenger with optional electronic stability control
Mercedes C class
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Passat sedan
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags