Americans, it seems, are genetically conditioned to equate size with safety. Thanks to advances in automotive design and materials, the physical size of a car or truck is no longer a good indication of how safe the vehicle is. Take the 2012 Fiat 500, for example: the IIHS has just awarded Fiat 500 models built after August of 2011 a “Top Safety Pick” award, and the 500 is small enough to fall into the “minicar” category.
Earning the Top Safety Pick award requires a car to score “Good” (the agency’s highest rating) in frontal offset, side impact and roof strength testing. Cars also must be equipped with electronic stability control, which can help even inexperienced drivers avoid catastrophic rollover accidents.
As Autoblog points out, the Fiat 500 joins the Ford Fiesta as the only minicars to earn the Top Safety Pick rating. Since Chevrolet has big plans for the Spark in the U.S. market, expect that car to do well in crash testing when it hits the market next year.