Hyundai Equus

The 2011 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan has just upped its status another notch. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently named the Equus a Top Safety Pick for 2011. The luxury sedan took the highest possible rating of "good" in front, side, rollover and rear crash protection in the Institute's crash testing.

The IIHS uses the ratings "good," "acceptable," "marginal" or "poor" to grade how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash. The ratings are based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test and assessments of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. To be named a "Top Safety Pick," a vehicle must score good ratings in all four tests and come equipped with stability control.

The Equus did especially well in the rollover test. It was able to withstand 4.87 times its total weight. The IIHS notes that a vehicle only has to support 1.5 times its weight in order to pass.

Hyundai's halo car competes in a field of high-end cars that are packed with cutting-edge safety equipment. The Equus joins the ranks of other top-scoring luxury sedans, including the 2011 BMW 5-Series, 2011 Cadillac CTS, 2011 Hyundai Genesis, 2011 Infiniti M37/M56, 2011 Lincoln MKS, 2011 Mercedes E-Class and 2011 Volvo S80, all of which received "good" ratings in all four tests.

By focusing on safety in addition to the usual luxury goodies, Hyundai has made the Equus a worthy competitor to all of those other top-tier sedans. And with a price that's many thousands less than the segment leaders, it's not only safe – it's a bargain to boot.

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Holly Reich writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on uptownlife.net.

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