The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in a recent press release the lineup of 2011 model year passenger vehicles that will receive new safety ratings under the agency’s revamped and updated 5-star safety ratings program.

In all, 24 passenger cars, 20 sport utility vehicles, two vans, and nine 2011 model year pickups will be rated under the new system that not only includes tougher crash tests, but, for the first time, provides consumers with a single overall safety score per vehicle. The new testing program will also provide consumers with information about new advanced crash avoidance technologies, such as lane departure and forward collision warning systems.

“The vehicles we are announcing today will be the first ones tested under the Department’s tougher, more rigorous 5-star ratings program,” Secretary Ray LaHood explained on July 29th. “This new testing program significantly raises the safety bar for all vehicle manufacturers and will provide consumers with a great deal more safety information about the cars and trucks they want to buy.”

“For over 30 years, NHTSA’s 5-star crash testing program has been the gold standard for consumers looking to buy the safest cars on the market for their families,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Now, this great program has gotten even better by making it easier to compare the safety performance of vehicles not only in terms of crash survivability, but in terms of avoiding crashes in the first place.”

Look for results of the 55 vehicles being tested under NHTSA’s new 5-star safety ratings system to be posted on the agency’s website, www.safercar.gov. When the new safety ratings become available, consumers will not be able to compare them to old ones since the testing criteria has changed. It will also be more difficult to achieve a high safety rating in this new program.

To view the list of 2011 makes and models selected for testing, visit www.nhtsa.gov/PR/NHTSA-05-10.