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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded Ford Motor Co.’s (F - Analyst Report) 2014 Ford Explorer top ratings under its New Car Assessment Program. The five-star overall vehicle score was bestowed on both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models of Ford Explorer.

Top safety ratings were given to the vehicle due to its advanced safety features like second-row inflatable safety belts, AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, Safety Canopy side air curtain technology for all three rows, dual-stage airbags for driver and front passenger, tire pressure monitoring system and SOS Post-Crash Alert System. The second-row inflatable safety belts reduce the risk of head, neck and chest injuries to second-row passengers.

In Dec 2013, Ford’s Fusion and Lincoln MKZ also received the “Top Safety Pick Plus” ranking from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The safety ratings not only act as a marketing tool for automakers, but also encourage them to enhance safety features in their vehicles as many consumers consider the safety ranking while making a purchase. This trend of improving safety features in automobiles is helping to diminish car crashes.

Apart from Ford, the top vehicle safety rating on Tesla Motors, Inc.’s (TSLA - Analyst Report) Model S car of model year 2014 was recently reiterated by the NHTSA. The Model S obtained a five-star rating overall and also for each of the subcategories.

In Aug 2013, Tesla’s Model S won the five-star rating from the NHTSA for the first time. This is a coveted award for Tesla as only 1% of cars tested receive the 5-star rating from NHTSA. The board assesses vehicle performance in frontal, side and rear crash tests and resistance to rollover.

Ford currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some other automobile stocks worth considering are Tata Motors Limited (TTM - Snapshot Report), Daimler AG (DDAIF - Snapshot Report) and Tesla Motors. Tata Motors and Daimler sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while Tesla carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).