Only the 2003 Acura RL earned a lower "acceptable" rating for structural safety/cage and head and neck injury prevention. The Cadillac Seville and Infinity G45 both were rated "good" as were three SUVs: the midsize Volvo XC90, the car-based Honda Element and the Mitsubishi Outlander.
The airbag of the Cadillac CTS deployed late in the first test but the passenger car earned a top rating when tested a second time.
Institute president Brian O'Neill said the test results provide further evidence that auto manufacturers are designing safer vehicles.
"Five out of six vehicles we tested are good performers and all five of them also earn our 'best pick' designation," O'Neill said Wednesday. "We haven't had a poor or marginal performer in our frontal offset crash test since 2001."
In the crash test, the vehicle's front end is driven into an offset deformable barrier at 40 miles per hour. The European Union, Australia and Japan use the same test to evaluate the crashworthiness of new cars and trucks.
The Volvo XC90 protected all occupants well as did the new 2003 Honda Element and Mitsubishi Outlander.
"These ratings double the number of small SUVs that have earned good ratings in our test and 'best pick' designations," O'Neill said. "Before this round of tests, only the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester did so. Now we have four top performers in this group."