By Tom Krisher | February 14, 2020
Sixty-four cars and SUVs sold in the U.S. earned Top Safety Pick awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2020 model year vehicles perform well in crash tests and have headlights available that are rated “good” or “acceptable.” They also have front crash prevention systems available such as automatic emergency braking that earn “advanced” or “superior” ratings in detecting other vehicles and pedestrians.
No minivans or pickups made the list because they either lack the safety devices or get “acceptable” rather than the top “good” rating on some crash tests. Of the 64, 23 got the institute’s Top Safety Pick Plus award, meaning they have good headlights as standard equipment, as well as meeting all the other requirements. Those with a Top Safety Pick Plus rating are the Honda Insight, Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, Mazda 6, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, the Subaru Outback built after October of last year, and the Toyota Camry. Also included are the Lexus ES, the Tesla Model 3, the Mercedes C-Class with optional front crash prevention, Mazda’s CX-3 and CX-5 with optional crash prevention, and the Subaru Forester.In addition are the Audi A6, Genesis G70 built after December, the Genesis G80, the Acura RDX, the Cadillac XT6 built after October, the Hyundai Nexo, the Lexus NX and Mercedes GLE Class built after July with optional crash protection.The IIHS uses the ratings to push for additional safety equipment to make cars safer, recently adding the headlight and front crash protection systems.
This year, IIHS added a crash test that measures front-seat passenger protection when the corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle, a pole or a tree.
The institute evaluated over 200 models from the 2020 model year, although some were not tested in all categories. A list of winners can be found on the institute’s website.The IIHS said in a press release that this is the first year that a “good” rating for a new crashworthiness test, called a passenger-side small overlap front rating, was required for both Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards. Last year, a good or acceptable rating was required for Top Safety Pick, while a good rating was needed to achieve the “plus.”The passenger-side small overlap evaluation is the newest of the IIHS crashworthiness tests. The Institute launched this test after it became clear that some manufacturers were ignoring the passenger side as they made changes to improve performance in the IIHS driver-side small overlap test. The small overlap tests are designed to replicate what happens when just the front corner of the vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. These crashes present a challenge for some seat belt and airbag designs because occupants move both forward and to the side of the vehicle. In addition, crash forces can bypass the vehicle’s main crush-zone structures. The institute said for a second year, it included pedestrian safety as part of its criteria. Annual pedestrian fatalities have increased 53 percent since reaching a low point in 2009, and more than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in crashes in 2018, IIHS said. “Rewarding technology that protects people outside the vehicle is new territory for the Top Safety Pick awards, but we believe vehicle manufacturers have an important role to play in protecting vulnerable road users,” said IIHS President David Harkey.
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