2011 Buick Regal

The 2011 Buick Regal has been well received for its styling and driving experience. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just added its own endorsement. Earning good marks for front, side, rollover and rear impact protection, the Regal has just been designated a "Top Safety Pick," putting it into the institute's Elite status, a group of 50 vehicles with high scores in each category. "The Top Safety Pick is specifically related to how a vehicle performs in our tough tests," said Russ Rader, VP of communications for the IIHS.

The Regal is the seventh vehicle from General Motors to earn this accolade since 2009, when the institute implemented a tough roof strength requirement to test rollover safety. A vehicle's roof must withstand the force of four times its own weight. The Regal handled almost five. That's even more impressive given that the current standard is 1.5.

Although the Regal competes in the mid-sized segment, it was judged as a large car because of its weight and size footprint. There are 10 other cars in this category that also rate a Top Safety Pick, but Rader stressed that "it's not a competition or a battle between vehicles as much as performance of the vehicle itself."

The IIHS has almost doubled the number of vehicles in the Top Safety Pick category from last year. In fall 2009, the institute had 27; this year there are 58. Rader also mentioned that Buick brought the Regal to the institute's attention early in the game. "The company expected it to be a Top Safety Pick. Automakers are doing their own internal tests and designing vehicles to do well. Manufacturers are working hard to get their vehicles on the list. They want to tout safety attributes as a way to get a leg up on their competitors."

The IIHS encourages manufacturers to flag promising vehicles at the time they are introduced (not three months down the road), so they may be tested in a more timely fashion and the results made available to potential buyers. "There are many crash test ratings out there," said Rader. "Our Top Ratings list helps customers zero in on which vehicles are the safest. They don't have to rifle through a lot of research."

For more information on Top Safety Picks, visit iihs.org.

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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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