ARLINGTON, VA – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said the new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, a small 4-door car that replaces the Aveo, has earned top ratings across the board in the institute's safety evaluations. As a result, the Sonic has been named an IIHS “Top Safety Pick.”

Vehicles qualify for Top Safety Pick if they earn “good” (the highest available) ratings for front, side, rollover, and rear crash protection, and have electronic stability control (ESC). A federal regulation requires ESC for all cars built after Sept. 1, 2011.

The Sonic's IIHS crash test performance is an improvement over that of the Aveo, which drew an “acceptable” rating in the IIHS frontal test, and “marginal” ratings in the other three evaluations.

In the institute's roof strength test for rollover protection, the roof of the Sonic withstood a force equal to 5.37 times the car's weight. Vehicles with a strength-to-weight ratio of 4 or higher earn a “good” rating in the test. In contrast, the Aveo's roof withstood a force equal to 3.09 times the car's weight.

The “Top Safety Pick” designation also applies to the structurally similar hatchback version of the Sonic.