Car Safety Ratings

Annually, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety chooses car models to win its Top Safety Pick award.  This award recognizes car designs that provide for the best protection in front, side, and rear collisions.  The award is based on a series of safety tests the institute performs.

Safe Cars

In this article, we're going to provide the award list, along with information from the federal government and their top rated cars in terms of safety.  As consumers, we should expect cars to deliver us at least two benefits.  The first is to reliably move us across the roadways.  The second is that a car should be a safe one to drive.  In this instance, safety includes both performance and protection.

Avoiding Accidents

In terms of safe performance, we're talking about equipment installed in cars that result in the vehicle being able to hold the road, which helps drivers to avoid accidents.  We talk about these features at the end of this article.

Protecting Drivers and Passengers

In terms of protection, we're talking about how well an automobile is able to protect those riding in the vehicle.  In other words, does the car's design help to prevent passengers in the vehicle from sustaining serious injuries?

These two elements are important when designing a vehicle.  In fact, if a car could be designed to avoid accidents in the first place, then manufacturers wouldn't have to worry about protecting passengers involved in accidents.

Safety Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an organization dedicated to reducing the losses from highway accidents.  The institute was established by automobile insurance companies that were interested in taking a scientific approach to reducing the loss of life and property on the roadways of America.

Top Safety Pick Awards

Based on the protocol developed by the Institute, 2015 and 2016 model cars were tested and rated to develop a Top Safety Pick award.  The following lists of cars are considered the safest on the road today, based on the findings of the Institute.

Mini Cars

  • 2016 Mini Cooper: with optional front crash prevention and applies only to Hardtop 2-door models.  Applies only to vehicles built after November 2015.
  • 2016 Scion iA

Small Cars

  • 2016 Acura ILX: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Chevrolet Sonic: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Honda Civic: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Kia Soul: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Lexus CT 200h: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Mazda 3: with optional front crash prevention, 4-door hatchback / 4-door sedan
  • 2016 Nissan Sentra: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Subaru Crosstrek: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Subaru Impreza: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Subaru WRX: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Toyota Prius: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Volkswagen Golf: with optional front crash prevention and applies only to 4-door and SportWagen models
  • 2016 Volkswagen GTI: with optional front crash prevention and applies only to 4-door models

Mid-Sized Cars, Moderately Priced

  • 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited: with optional front crash prevention and available only to fleets
  • 2016 Chrysler 200: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Honda Accord 2-door coupe: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Honda Accord 4-door sedan: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Hyundai Sonata: with optional front crash prevention.  Applies only to vehicles built after October 2015.
  • 2016 Kia Optima: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Mazda 6: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Nissan Altima: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Nissan Maxima: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Subaru Legacy: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Subaru Outback: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Toyota Camry: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Toyota Prius v: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Volkswagen Jetta: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Volkswagen Passat: with optional front crash prevention

Mid-Sized Cars, Luxury, Near Luxury

  • 2016 Audi A3: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 BMW 2 series: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Lexus ES 350: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Volvo S60
  • 2016 Volvo V60

Large Family Cars

  • 2016 Toyota Avalon: with optional front crash prevention

Large Cars, Luxury

  • 2016 Acura RLX
  • 2016 Audi A6: with optional front crash prevention. Applies only to vehicles built after January 2015.
  • 2016 Hyundai Genesis: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Infiniti Q70: with optional front crash prevention and does not apply to V8 4-wheel-drive models
  • 2016 Lexus RC: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • 2016 Volvo S80

Small SUVs

  • 2016 Buick Encore: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Fiat 500X: with optional front crash prevention. Applies only to vehicles built after July 2015.
  • 2016 Honda CR-V: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Hyundai Tucson: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2017 Kia Sportage: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Mazda CX-5: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Nissan Rogue: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Subaru Forester: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Toyota RAV4: with optional front crash prevention

Mid-Sized SUVs

  • 2016 Chevrolet Equinox: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 GMC Terrain: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Honda Pilot: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Kia Sorento: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Nissan Murano: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander: with optional front crash prevention

Mid-Sized SUVs, Luxury

  • 2016 Acura MDX: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Acura RDX: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Audi Q5: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Infiniti QX60: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Lexus NX: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Lexus RX: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
  • 2016 Volvo XC60
  • 2016 Volvo XC90

Minivans

  • 2016 Honda Odyssey: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Kia Sedona: with optional front crash prevention

Large Pickup Trucks

  • 2016 Ford F-150 Crew cab pickup: with optional front crash prevention
  • 2016 Ford F-150 Extended cab pickup: with optional front crash prevention

Testing Cars

The institute evaluates a car's safety performance based on frontal offset impacts at 40 miles per hour, a side impact test, and two rear impacts at 20 miles per hour.  Injury is determined by examining two dummies, one in the driver's side, and a second in the rear seat behind the driver.  A vehicle also needs good performance in a roof strength test, which is used to measure protection in a rollover.

Government Vehicle Safety Ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also publishes a list of cars with excellent safety ratings.  In fact, they even have a database that allows users to do a search based on make and model year.  The NHTSA evaluates cars and light trucks in three areas:  frontal crashes, side impacts, and rollover ratings.

Safety Features

Consumers that are really trying to find a safe car to drive might also want to check out our article:  Car Safety Features, which has additional information on the different types of equipment available in today's cars.


About the Author - Car Safety Ratings (Last Reviewed on May 24, 2016)