Among large family cars, the Ford Five Hundred and its twin Mercury Montego were new designs for the 2005 model year. However, only the models with optional side airbags are Top Safety Pick winners. Another winner is the Audi A6, a large luxury model that was redesigned for the 2005 model year.
The picks replace the institute's previous "best pick" designations that were awarded separately for front and side crash test performance," institute President Brian O'Neill said.
Other vehicles that earned awards in the mid-size category were the Saab 9-3, Subaru Legacy, Audi A3 and A4, the Chevrolet Malibu with optional side airbags, and the Volkswagen Jetta and Passat models.
In the small car class, the Honda Civic was the safest performer.
Pickups and SUVs weren't included in the list because side impact tests of most of these vehicles haven't been conducted yet, the institute said.