• The Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Azera and Toyota Prius C are new Top Safety Picks
  • Each scored Good on a battery of rigorous crash tests
  • All three models recently went on sale

Three new models are the latest recipients of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick designation. The newly redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and 2012 Hyundai Azera have joined the all-new 2012 Toyota Prius C in earning the prestigious distinction, which is awarded after a battery of tests designed to measure crashworthiness. 

According to the IIHS, a nonprofit group funded by the automotive insurance industry, the Malibu, Azera and Prius C were each named a Top Safety Pick after receiving the organization's highest rating of Good in a series of crash evaluations. Those tests consist of an offset frontal impact at 40 mph, a side impact designed to simulate a collision with an SUV, a rear crash that examines the effectiveness of the head restraints and a rollover evaluation that evaluates roof strength.

In receiving the Top Safety Pick designation, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu joins several mid-size sedan rivals that have already earned the IIHS's highest award, including the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat. While the Malibu that earned the Top Safety Pick title was Chevrolet's mild-hybrid Malibu Eco, traditional gasoline-powered models will share the same architecture and are expected to earn the same safety ratings. 

The 2012 Azera slots above the Sonata in Hyundai's lineup, Many of the 2012 Hyundai Azera's larger rivals also earned the distinction, including the Buick Lacrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon.

The Prius C's Top Safety Pick title is even more impressive, since it's harder for a small vehicle to score so highly in each of the IIHS's rigorous crash tests. Nonetheless, the Prius C joins the Honda CR-Z and Insight-and Prius stablemates, including the original model and the larger Prius V-among smaller hybrid models that have been named Top Safety Picks. The Prius C is the latest and smallest member of the growing Toyota Prius family.

The 2013 Malibu, 2012 Azera and 2012 Prius C each went on sale within the past few months.

What it means to you: As safety technology advances, a larger number of new models are being named to the IIHS's list of Top Safety Picks.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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