The organization recently tested 13 small cars, giving its safety award to six, including the Ford Focus and the Hyundai Elantra. None of the cars earned a poor rating in four tests the organization conducted.
The organization based its decision on a variety of factors, including front, side and rear impact evaluations. All the cars in the top category have available electronic stability control, which helps drivers maintain control of the vehicle in bad driving conditions.
Winners of the Top Safety Pick are the 2012 Ford Focus and Honda Civic, along with the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, Lexus CT 200h hybrid, Nissan Juke and Toyota Prius hybrid.
The Civic, Elantra, Focus, and Prius each have a version with a government fuel economy rating of at least 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
The Dodge Caliber, Honda CR-Z and Insight hybrids, Nissan Sentra and Versa, Scion xD, and Suzuki SX4 also were highly rated but didn't earn a Top Safety Pick.