The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just awarded the first lot of five star safety ratings for a 2011 model year car. And it's the BMW 5 Series and Hyundai Sonata (i45) that has come out on top so far.
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Crash testing is still in progress as the NHTSA works its way through 24 new passenger cars, 20 SUVs, nine utes and two vans. The new cars are subjected to new crash testing procedures, too. New scenarios include the side-pole test, crash prevention technology testing - distance control and lane change monitoring systems - and electronic stability control testing.

Another feature the NHTSA has come up with is the use of female crash test dummies as well as the inclusion of roll over crash results. BMW's 5 Series and the Hyundai Sonata have now been judged on all these tests and have been awarded five stars.

Ray La Hood, US Transportation Secretary, was quoted as saying in a recent Autoweek report,

"With our upgraded five-star safety-ratings system, we're raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.”

The common myth that more expensive cars are mostly safer than the cheaper options can be thrown out the window in this specific circumstance, and it proves Hyundai has very much improved on development and testing in the past couple of years.