Choices expand for safety-conscious consumers, as 90 vehicles earn IIHS awards

February 24, 2021 12:01 AM EST

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ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is recognizing 49 models for providing the highest level of safety — more than double the number that earned the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award last year.

Another 41 vehicles earn TOP SAFETY PICK (without the plus), bringing the total number of 2021 award winners to 90, compared with 64 in February 2020.

“With these awards, we want to make it easy for consumers to find vehicles that provide good protection in crashes, sufficient lighting and effective front crash protection,” IIHS President David Harkey says. “Manufacturers have stepped up to meet the challenge, and the list of great options has grown to an impressive size this year.”

Both awards require good ratings in all six IIHS crashworthiness tests — driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. Award winners must be available with front crash prevention that earns a superior or advanced rating in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. Last but not least, TOP SAFETY PICK winners must be available with good or acceptable headlights. The “plus” designation is given to models that have good or acceptable headlights across all trim levels and packages.

Of all manufacturers, Hyundai Motor Group, including the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands, has the most 2021 awards — 12 regular TOP SAFETY PICKs and five pluses. Volvo has the most TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards with nine.

Only one automaker, Mitsubishi, has failed to earn a single award so far. The low number of awards for General Motors — one TOP SAFETY PICK and one TOP SAFETY PICK+ — is striking for such a large manufacturer.

This year two minivans, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, qualify for the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award. A pickup truck, the Ram 1500 crew cab, qualifies for TOP SAFETY PICK and is the only winner from Stellantis, the company created by the recent merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot. A year ago, there were no minivans or pickups in the winner’s circle.

Headlight improvements

IIHS has been using a two-tier award system since 2013 as a way to phase in new requirements that may be tough for all manufacturers to meet immediately. Over the years, IIHS has used TOP SAFETY PICK+ to introduce new crash tests and crash avoidance criteria before making them part of the requirements for the regular TOP SAFETY PICK award.

Headlight ratings were first incorporated into TOP SAFETY PICK+ criteria for the 2017 award year. To qualify for the highest award, vehicles had to at least have good or acceptable headlights available as an option. The following year, that requirement became part of the base award.

As manufacturers showed they could produce headlights with better lighting and less glare, IIHS decided to encourage them to make this improved equipment standard. Starting in 2020, only vehicles with good or acceptable headlights across the board could earn TOP SAFETY PICK+.

The strategy seems to be working. A year ago, only 23 vehicles qualified for the higher-tier award. Today, the number has more than doubled, and the majority of awards handed out for 2021 models include the plus sign.

Front crash prevention

Vehicles don’t have to have front crash prevention as standard equipment to qualify for either award, but a voluntary manufacturer commitment is helping on that front. Twenty automakers have signed the pledge to equip at least 95 percent of vehicles they make with vehicle-to-vehicle automatic emergency braking beginning in the 2022-23 production year.

All 49 TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners and 31 TOP SAFETY PICK winners have standard systems that meet the vehicle-to-vehicle requirement. Forty-eight of the TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners and 26 of the TOP SAFETY PICK winners also meet the pedestrian crash prevention criterion with their standard systems. The others qualify based on optional equipment.

Near misses

The extensive list of criteria for both awards means many vehicles check all boxes but one. Twelve vehicles are only lacking good or acceptable headlights, while seven don’t have pedestrian crash prevention that earns a superior or advanced rating. Only five fall short on crashworthiness. All five lack a good rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test.

 

Full list of winners

TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. They also have an advanced or superior rating for available front crash prevention — in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations — and have acceptable or good headlights standard.

Small cars

Honda Insight

Mazda 3 hatchback

Mazda 3 sedan

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Midsize cars

Honda Accord

Kia K5 (built after November 2020)

Mazda 6

Nissan Altima

Nissan Maxima (built after November 2020)

Subaru Legacy

Subaru Outback

Toyota Camry

Midsize luxury cars

Acura TLX

Lexus ES 350

Lexus IS

Tesla Model 3

Volvo S60

Volvo S60 Recharge

Volvo V60

Volvo V60 Recharge

Large luxury cars

Audi A6

Audi A6 allroad

Audi A7

Genesis G70

Genesis G90

Small SUVs

Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-30 (built after September 2020)

Nissan Rogue

Subaru Forester

Volvo XC40

Midsize SUVs

Ford Explorer

Hyundai Palisade

Mazda CX-9

Subaru Ascent

Toyota Highlander

Midsize luxury SUVs

Acura RDX

Cadillac XT6

Hyundai Nexo

Lexus NX

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (with optional front crash prevention)

Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60 Recharge

Volvo XC90

Volco XC90 Recharge

Large SUVs

Audi e-tron

Audi e-tron Sportback

Minivans

Honda Odyssey

Toyota Sienna

TOP SAFETY PICK winners earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. They also have an advanced or superior rating for available front crash prevention — in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations — and have acceptable or good headlights available, but not standard. Vehicles qualify for the award only when equipped with those headlights.

Small cars

Honda Civic hatchback (excluding Type R performance variant)

Honda Civic sedan

Hyundai Veloster (with optional front crash prevention)

Kia Forte (with optional front crash prevention)

Kia Soul (with optional front crash prevention)

Nissan Sentra

Subaru Crosstrek (with optional front crash prevention)

Subaru Impreza sedan (with optional front crash prevention)

Subaru Impreza wagon (with optional front crash prevention)

Subaru WRX (with optional front crash prevention)

Toyota Corolla hatchback

Toyota Corolla sedan

Midsize car

Hyundai Sonata

Midsize luxury cars

Audi A4

Audi A5 Sportback

BMW 3 series

Mercedes-Benz C-Class (with optional front crash prevention)

Large car

Kia Stinger (with optional front crash prevention)

Small SUVs

Chevrolet Equinox

Ford Escape

Honda CR-V

Hyundai Kona (with optional front crash prevention)

Hyundai Tucson (with optional front crash prevention)

Hyundai Venue

Kia Seltos (built after August 2020; wiht optional front crash prevention)

Kia Sportage (with optional front crash prevention)

Lexus UX

Lincoln Corsair

Toyota C-HR

Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4 Prime

Toyota Venza

Midsize SUVs

Ford Edge

Kia Sorento

Kia Telluride

Volkswagen Tiguan

Midsize luxury SUVs

Lexus RX

Lincoln Aviator

Mercedes-Benz GLC (with optional front crash prevention)

Large SUV

Audi Q8

Large pickup

Ram 1500 crew cab (with optional front crash prevention)

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VNR:        Wed. 2/24/2021, 10:30-11 a.m. ET; repeat 1:30-2 p.m. ET (KU) GALAXY 17                 SD transponder 17/slot 1 (dl12025H) bandwidth 6 MHz; symbol rate 3.9787 FEC ¾                 HD transponder 17-upper (dl12049H) bandwidth 18 MHz; symbol rate 13.235 FEC ¾

For more information, go to iihs.org

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries and property damage — from motor vehicle crashes. IIHS is wholly supported by auto insurers.

Attachments

Joe Young
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
504-641-0491
jyoung@iihs.org
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety


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