The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released its annual list of automotive safety awards. Japanese carmakers dominated the top picks while only one American vehicle received the top rating in the 2016 ratings.
Among 48 vehicles that received the IIHS “Top Safety Pick Plus” rating, 23 were from Toyota, Honda and Subaru.
Toyota and Honda, including their subsidiaries Scion, Lexus and Acura, were the top two automakers, overall. Volkswagen came in third with seven VW and Audi models on the list.
The Chrysler 200 was the only vehicle from a domestic brand to get the top safety rating.
To be a “Top Safety Pick Plus,” vehicles must get the top score in all five of the group’s crash tests.
Winners must also offer advanced front crash-prevention systems with automatic emergency braking. The institute reported several vehicles added automatic braking in 2016 so they could compete for the top prize, including the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.
Prior to the 2016 ranking, winners could get a lower score on the small overlap front crash test, the institute’s newest and most challenging test. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a car hits a fixed object.
Some previous winners, such as the Toyota Sienna minivan, dropped off the list this year because they didn’t earn the top score on that test.
IIHS Alters Ranking System in 2016
Thirteen vehicles, including five made by General Motors Co., earned the institute’s second-highest rating of “Top Safety Pick.” Among those was the Buick Encore, which earned the highest scores on the institute’s crash tests but doesn’t offer automatic braking.
The institute noted automatic braking is standard on the Scion iA, a $16,000 subcompact. It was the only minicar to earn the designation. Only a handful of other vehicles, all luxury models, offer automatic braking as a standard feature. On most vehicles, it’s an option.
Here are the IIHS rankings for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ vehicles. Both designations are for vehicles with a good or acceptable rating in small overlap front test and good ratings in four other crash evaluations. The Top Safety Pick+ is for vehicles that also have frontal crash prevention systems.
TOP SAFETY PICKS+
Minicar — Scion iA.
Small Cars — Acura ILX, Lexus CT 200h, Mazda Mazda3, Subaru Crosstrek, Subaru Impreza, Subaru WRX, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen GTI.
Midsize Moderately Priced Cars — Chrysler 200, Honda Accord 4-Door Sedan, Honda Accord 2-Door Coupe, Mazda Mazda6, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius v, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Passat.
Midsize Luxury/Near Luxury Cars — Audi A3, BMW 2 series, Lexus ES, Volvo S60, Volvo V60.
Large Family Car — Toyota Avalon.
Large Luxury Cars — Acura RLX, Audi A6, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti Q70, Lexus RC, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo S80.
Small SUVs — Fiat 500X, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4
Midsize SUVs — Honda Pilot, Nissan Murango
Midsize Luxury SUVs — Acura MDX, Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Lexus NX, Volvo XC60, Volvo XC90.
TOP SAFETY PICKS
Small Cars — Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Soul, Nissan Sentra
Midsize Moderately Priced Cars — Chevrolet Malibu Limited
Small SUVs — Buick Encore, Nissan Rogue
Midsize SUVs — Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Kia Sorento
Midsize Luxury SUV — Mercedes-Benz GLE Class
Minivans — Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona
Large Pickup — Ford F-150 SuperCrew