To qualify as a Top Safety Pick, vehicles have to be equipped as standard with electronic stability control (ESC), which research shows can significantly reduce the risk of crashing. Vehicles are tested for side, rear and frontal impacts.
This was also the first year pickups were eligible for inclusion. The entire list of 34 safest vehicles -- most of which were announced earlier this year and in 2006 -- features eight vehicles from Ford and its luxury unit, Volvo, and seven winners from Honda and its luxury arm, Acura.
Audi's sporty compact scores highly in front, side, and rear crash tests by way of its side airbags, front and rear head curtain airbags and front seat-mounted torso airbags, alongside its optional rear seat-mounted torso airbags. ABS also comes standard.
Redesigned for 2008, Honda's midsize sedan boasts side airbags, front and rear head curtain airbags and front seat-mounted torso airbags. The Accord scored particularly highly on driver side and frontal collision, with the test dummy rebounding into the seat without its head coming close to any stiff structure that could cause injury.
Subaru's pocket-rocket now also has a well-earned reputation for safety, perhaps naturally considering the speeds some of these will almost inevitably reach. Curtain airbags that deploy from the roof protect rear-seat passengers on impact, alongside front seat-mounted torso airbags and ABS.
Safety counts for a lot in this family-driven sector and the Odyssey delivers strong safety ratings across the board for head and neck, chest, leg and foot and head restraints. Front and side tests indicated the driver's survival space was maintained well, with low cabin intrusion on impact.
This Bimmer comes with front and rear head curtain airbags and front door-mounted torso airbags as standard, alongside optional rear door-mounted torso airbags. Introduced for 2008 models, the X3 has rollover sensors which deploy the side curtain airbags as soon as the car's myriad electronic chips sense it may roll.
The X5 maintains its sterling safety record with another stellar performance in 2008. This one has front and second-row head curtain airbags and front seat-mounted torso bags. Its daytime running lights are fully programmable.
Introduced in 2007 and based in part on the Santa Fe, the Veracruz has maintained the Korean carmaker's recently forged reputation for safety with strong safety ratings across the board for head and neck, chest, and leg and foot. This one packs side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats. (**built after August 2007)
Substantially refitted for 2008, strong safety is just another asset to tempt ever-increasing numbers of buyers into this budget baby. As well as a rollover sensor, this one packs front and rear head curtain airbags and front seat-mounted bags. (**built after December 2007)
Refitted for 2008, Toyota's midsize SUV registered good performance in front, side and rear tests. Dummy movement was well controlled in front impact. Measures taken from the neck, chest, and both legs indicated low risk of injuries to these body regions after impact.
Honda's once-radical compact SUV registered strong safety performance across the board, with particular kudos going to cabin space integrity, or the strength of said radically designed shell. Alongside a rollover sensor, you get side, front and rear head curtain, and front seat-mounted torso bags.
Redesigned for 2007, Toyota's full-size pickup was rated good - and the best in its class - for front, side and rear-impact tests, although tests indicated some injuries were possible to head and neck, and left foot. That wasn't, however, enough to keep it off the list of 2008's safest.