When it comes to safety ratings I always consider the IIHS the go-to source for testing. This is because unlike the Federal Government testing, the IIHS progressively raises the goal post on automakers almost every year. The government crash tests haven’t significantly changed or gotten more challenging in decades.
What this means is the IIHS introduces new tests that are harder and they change the rules during the game, always throwing new obstacles at automakers to earn their Top Safety Pick honors. And while that seems unfair to the car makers, it’s making cars safer for you and me far faster than government regulations.
To wit, for 2016 models the IIHS now requires a Good rating on all of their crash tests to earn Top Safety Pick. Last year, a vehicle could slide by an Acceptable rating on the brutal new small-overlap crash test. Not any more.
Additionally, to be considered for Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must have an available frontal crash prevention system such as a warning device when you’re approaching an obstacle. In the past this wasn’t required for the honor.
And now to earn Top Safety Pick +, cars need to have available a superior or advanced front crash prevention system with auto-braking capability. This means that it not only has to warn you, it has to automatically hit the brakes to avoid a crash if you’re too busy texting.
This seems like a pretty high bar to jump, but luckily for the automakers who care enough about safety ratings, they knew this rule change was coming. And the winners will reap the rewards. Even with the higher requirements, a staggering 48 2016 vehicles made the Top Safety Pick + list.
These include cars, crossovers and SUV’s from brands like Toyota who lead all brands with the most Top Safety Pick + winners with nine models. Honda was right behind them with eight, and Volkswagen/Audi had seven.
Scion proved that even the smallest of cars can be safe with their new iA, which is actually built by Mazda. It features a standard front crash avoidance system with auto-brake capability. This combined with its robust crash structure made it the only micro-car to make the list for Top Safety Pick +
The positive trend continues down the list of most automakers this year, with many familiar faces. The trend that is a bit disappointing however is the absence of American brands. Only one American branded car made Top Safety Pick + for 2016, the Chrysler 200.
In the Top Safety Pick category, only a handful of American branded vehicles are found, mostly from General Motors and the Ford F-150. And even the F-150 only qualifies with the Crew Cab version as the Super-Cab fails the small-overlap test quite dramatically.
The testing shows that safety doesn’t always cost more, and that it’s quite accessible to people in all areas of the market from small cars all the way up to large trucks and SUV’s. With the advent of new crash prevention technologies, they’re only going to get safer.
A full listing of all the initial 2016 Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick + winners can be found below.
TOP SAFETY PICK+ 2016
Lexus CT 200h
Mazda 3 (sedan & hatchback)
Volkswagen Golf (5-door hatchback & SportWagen)
Volkswagen GTI (5-door hatchback)
Midsize moderately priced cars
Honda Accord (sedan & coupe)
Toyota Prius v
Midsize luxury/near luxury cars
BMW 2 series
Large family car
Large luxury cars
built after January 2015
Infiniti Q70 (not V8 AWD)
Fiat 500X (built after July 2015)
Midsize luxury SUVs
TOP SAFETY PICK 2016
Midsize moderately priced car
Chevrolet Malibu Limited (fleet only)
Midsize luxury SUV
Ford F-150 SuperCrew