The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle is the German automaker’s ninth 2013 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). Along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, IIHS is generally considered the most trusted source of vehicle safety data in the U.S.
To determine how well a vehicle will protect occupants in an accident, IIHS puts vehicles through five tests — moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, rollover and rear. Each test earns a rating of Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor. For a vehicle to make the Top Safety Pick list, it must receive a Good rating in the moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear tests, regardless of how it does in the small overlap front test.
In addition, IIHS gives Top Safety Pick designations only to vehicles with Electronic Stability Control and head protection airbags.
Here’s a quick rundown of each IIHS crash test:
Moderate Overlap Frontal Test
This test challenges the structural integrity of the occupant compartment in a near head-on collision.
Small Overlap Frontal Test
When the front corner of a vehicle collides with either another vehicle or a static object, occupants are jarred both forward and sideways. This test challenges the effectiveness of safety belt and airbag systems.
Broadside collisions are troubling because the sides of vehicles don’t provide the space to shield occupants adequately. In this test, a sled barrier that’s over 3,000 pounds T-bones the driver’s side of a car at 31 miles per hour.
When a vehicle rolls, the roof can crush downward. In the roof-strength test, a metal plate is pushed against one side of a roof to test its strength-to-weight ratio.
This test evaluates the geometry of a vehicle’s head restraints and seat backs to determine the extent of injuries from a rear collision.
The Beetle’s safety arsenal includes a rigid body structure that uses ultra-high-strength steels in the crash-load paths and an Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks doors and switches on hazard lights in an accident.
"Volkswagen is passionate about safety," said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "To have IIHS recognize the Volkswagen Beetle as a Top Safety Pick is a great statement for the brand. The fact that we now have nine 2013 Top Safety Picks is a testament to our commitment to continually improve the safety and quality of our vehicles."