The 2011 Mazda 3 sedan/hatchback, after earning the top rating of good for roof strength in rollover crashes, qualifies as a Top Safety Pick among small cars by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Mazda3, which previously earned good ratings for front, side, and rear crash protection, is the manufacturer’s first car designated as a Top Safety Pick since the Institute made the criteria more strict by including a requirement for a good rating in the roof strength test.
Two tests were conducted in order to rate the 4-door sedan and hatchback versions. The sedan’s roof withstood a force equal to 5.32 times the car’s weight. The hatchback’s roof withstood a force equal to 5.09 times its weight. Vehicles with a strength-to-weight ratio of 4 or higher earn a good rating in the IIHS test. By comparison, the current federal standard is 1.5 times weight.
In addition to good crash test ratings, Top Safety Pack selectees must have electronic stability control (ESC). It became standard on the Mazda3 for the 2011 model year.
Here’s the current list of cars, sport utility vehicles and minivans with IIHS Top Safety Pick ratings:
Buick LaCrosse, Buick Regal, BMW 5 series (except 4-wheel drive and V8), Cadillac CTS sedan, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti M37/M56 (except M56x 4-wheel drive), Lincoln MKS, Mercedes E class coupe, Mercedes E class sedan, Toyota Avalon, Volvo S80.
Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic (4-door models except Si with optional ESC), Kia Forte sedan, Kia Soul, Mazda 3 (built after December 2010, sedan/hatchback), Mini Cooper Countryman, Mitsubishi Lancer (sedan, except 4-wheel drive), Nissan Cube, Scion tC, Scion xB, Subaru Impreza (except WRX, sedan/wagon), Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf (4-door models) Volkswagen GTI (4-door models).
Ford Fiesta (built after July 2010, sedan/hatchback).
Audi A3, Audi A4 (sedan), Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler 200 (4-door models), Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes C class, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Jetta sedan, Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, Volvo C30.
Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna
Buick Enclave (built after January 2011), Chevrolet Traverse (built after January 2011), GMC Acadia (built after January 2011) Volkswagen Touareg.
Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Ford Explorer, Ford Flex, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento
(built after March 2010), Lexus RX, Lincoln MKX, Mercedes GLK, Subaru Tribeca, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Venza, Volvo XC60, Volvo XC90.
Honda Element, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot (with optional side torso airbags), Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, Volkswagen Tiguan.
Article Last Updated: March 22, 2011.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.