NEWS

These 71 Cars Earned IIHS Top Safety Pick Awards Amid Tougher Criteria

mazda cx 90 2024 oem scaled jpg 2024 Mazda CX-90 | IIHS photo

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tightened the criteria for its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards for calendar-year 2024, now requiring vehicles to better identify and avoid pedestrians, as well as better protect occupants in a crash. Nonetheless, 71 vehicles qualified for the awards for 2024, an increase of 23 over 2023, when the stricter requirements began to take effect. (Under the old rules, 101 vehicles earned the awards in 2022.)

Related: IIHS, Consumer Reports: Automakers Have Met Automatic Emergency Braking Commitment

The full list of award winners is below. For some vehicles, a build-date cutoff is specified; these signify running changes made either to the structure of the vehicle or to standard content that qualified it for an award it was ineligible for prior to the date of the change.

2024 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Winners

  • Acura: Integra, MDX
  • BMW: X3
  • Ford: Explorer
  • Honda: Accord, HR-V
  • Hyundai: Ioniq 6, Kona
  • Genesis: Electrified G80, GV60, GV80 (built after August 2023)
  • Kia: Telluride
  • Mazda: Mazda3, CX-30, CX-50 (built after August 2023), CX-90
  • Mercedes-Benz: GLE (with optional Driver Assistance Plus Package)
  • Nissan: Pathfinder (built after November 2023)
  • Subaru: Ascent
  • Tesla: Model Y
  • Toyota: Prius

2024 Top Safety Pick Winners

  • Acura: RDX
  • Audi: Q4 e-Tron, Q4 Sportback e-Tron, Q7, Q8 e-Tron, Q8 Sportback e-Tron
  • BMW: 5 Series, X1
  • Honda: CR-V, Odyssey, Pilot
  • Hyundai: Elantra, Ioniq 5, Palisade, Santa Cruz, Tucson
  • Infiniti: QX60
  • Genesis: GV70 (built after November 2023), Electrified GV70, G80, G90
  • Jeep: Grand Cherokee, Grand Cherokee L
  • Kia: Sportage
  • Lexus: NX (including plug-in hybrid), RX, RZ, UX
  • Mazda: CX-90 PHEV
  • Mercedes-Benz: C-Class, GLC
  • Nissan: Ariya
  • Rivian: R1S, R1T
  • Subaru: Impreza, Outback, Solterra
  • Toyota: Camry, Crown, Highlander, Prius Prime, Sienna, Tundra (crew cab and extended cab)
  • Volkswagen: Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport
  • Volvo: XC90, XC90 Recharge

Standout Performances

IIHS spotlights Hyundai and Toyota for having the highest award counts overall with 16 and 13, respectively, though those are divided among the automakers’ multiple brands (Hyundai, Genesis and Kia for the former, Toyota and Lexus for the latter) and diverse lineups. In contrast, Mazda’s five Top Safety Pick Plus winners and one Top Safety Pick award represent a significant two-thirds of its smaller portfolio. IIHS also notes that by class, small, mid-size and mid-size luxury SUVs tie for the most TSPP awards with five each. Counting the additional 12 TSP recipients, mid-size luxury SUVs are the agency’s most awarded segment.

Tests and Tougher Standards Explained

ford explorer 2024 oem scaled jpg 2024 Ford Explorer | IIHS photo

IIHS scores crash performance on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable or good, and it rates active-safety systems on a scale of basic, advanced or superior. Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ honors are awarded based on four crash tests, as well as daytime and nighttime pedestrian detection evaluations. In the small overlap front test, the vehicle travels at 40 mph into a rigid barrier that covers 25% of its total width; meant to simulate an impact with a tree or utility pole, this test is performed on both the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle. The lower of the two ratings is the vehicle’s score.

In the moderate overlap front test, the vehicle is again traveling at 40 mph, but it strikes a barrier covering 40% of the vehicle’s width. The face of the barrier in this test is constructed of a deformable aluminum honeycomb, with the resultant forces roughly equivalent to an offset head-on collision between two vehicles going 40 mph. For 2022, IIHS updated this test with an additional dummy seated behind the driver.

IIHS updated its side impact test in 2023 to better reflect the size and mass of vehicles on the road today. Previously, a 3,300-pound sled meant to mimic a common SUV struck the test vehicle broadside at 31 mph. Starting in 2021, the sled grew to 4,200 pounds and now strikes the test vehicle at 37 mph. For 2023, a good or acceptable rating was necessary to qualify for Top Safety Pick, but a vehicle had to score a good for Top Safety Pick+; now, a good rating is required for either award.

Additionally, the agency’s crash prevention ratings, which were previously split into daytime and nighttime pedestrian detection tests, are now rolled into one. In 2023, vehicles could qualify as a TSP based solely on its daytime performance. IIHS noted that while most pedestrian strikes occur during the day when there is more vehicular and foot traffic on the roads, three-quarters of fatal pedestrian crashes happen at night. Accordingly, the new rating includes tests performed in the light and dark, so no vehicle can receive either award if it fails to detect pedestrians at night.

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Why It Matters

rivian r1t 2024 oem scaled jpg 2024 Rivian R1T | IIHS photo

IIHS doesn’t just conduct crash tests; it also collects real-world crash data involving vehicles it has tested. Analysis of crashes from the past 14 years suggests the driver of a vehicle with a good rating in the moderate overlap frontal crash test is 46% less likely to die in a head-on crash with a similar vehicle than the driver of a model with a poor rating in that test.

Likewise, when the agency began its pedestrian detection test in 2019, only 21% of vehicles tested earned a superior rating — and such systems weren’t even available as an option on 44% of new vehicles. Video of failed tests is deeply unsettling, with subject vehicles unflinchingly obliterating test dummies, often without so much as a tap of the brakes. Today, the vast majority of vehicles offer pedestrian detection at least as an option, and in IIHS testing during 2023, 59% of vehicles rated superior in the daytime test, and 40% did so at night.

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