The Saab 9-4X crossover SUV and 9-5 sedan have both earned 'Top Safety Pick' nods from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The award is the institute's highest accolade for car safety, and is only given to vehicles that meet its most-stringent standards for crash-worthiness.

The IIHS's testing includes font, side and rear impact tests as well as a roof structure test for potential rollovers. In order to be a Top Safety Pick, a car has to be equipped with some form of electronic traction or stability control, and receive a top rating in each test.

The 9-4X's Top Safety Pick award comes just three weeks after the 9-5 sedan was also given the IIHS's award.

Making safe cars is part of the Swedish automaker's identity. In a press release following the IIHS announcement, Saab reported that it was happy to win the awards, but prefers to focus on real world crash scenarios, where there are more variables and changing conditions than in an IIHS lab.

Per Lenhoff, Saab's head of safety development, remarked, "Our main priority, however, will always be to protect real people in real accidents, not just to do well in crash tests."

Still, the awards come as some pretty good news for what has otherwise been a fairly rocky year for Saab. The company has experienced long production delays due to cash shortages and supplier disputes.

The 9-4X and 9-5 have yet to be rated in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHSTA) five-star crash rating program, but IIHS Top Safety Pick winners generally tend to perform well in the NHSTA's tests, as well.

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J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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