38 Top Safety Pick+ Cars Announced by IIHS

2017 Volvo XC90
1 of 40

New 2017 Headlight Requirements Mean Fewer Winners

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its Top Safety Pick awards today, giving the highest honor, Top Safety Pick+, to 38 vehicles. That's down from 48 last year. New headlight requirements played a major role in reducing the number of winners from last year.

Toyota and Lexus lead the award count with nine 2017 Top Safety Pick+ wins, including the popular RAV4 compact SUV and Camry midsize sedan.

Another 44 vehicles won the second-highest award, Top Safety Pick.

Why Does the Award Matter?

Everyone cares about safety when buying a new car, and the Top Safety Pick+ award from IIHS is one of the best-known safety awards in the automotive industry. Automakers will often make improvements to their designs to meet IIHS' requirements for a win, as Honda did with the Odyssey in 2014.

Russ Rader, IIHS Senior Vice President for Communications, says, "Manufacturers strive to earn top safety ratings. Subaru, Toyota, and Mitsubishi made changes to headlights to earn higher ratings for 2017. People hear a lot about recalls and defective airbags, but consumers should know that vehicles have never been safer. If you’re trading in a 10-year-old car for a new one, you’re getting a big upgrade in safety. The winner’s circle for 2017 includes vehicles in just about every price category. And some affordable vehicles have safety features that were once only found in luxury models, such as standard automatic braking on the Toyota Corolla, RAV4, and Yaris iA."

Award Criteria

To earn a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must earn Good ratings (the highest rating) in a battery of crash and safety tests, including moderate overlap front crash, small overlap front crash, side crash, roof strength, and head restraint. Vehicles must also be available with automatic emergency braking, and that system must earn a Superior or Advanced rating.

Top Safety Pick+ winners must meet all of the criteria for the Top Safety Pick award, plus earn an Acceptable or Good headlight rating.

The Headlight Test

Only seven vehicles earned the Good rating (the highest rating) in their headlight test: the Hyundai Elantra compact car, the Hyundai Santa Fe midsize SUV, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, the Honda Ridgeline compact pickup truck, the Subaru Legacy midsize car, the Toyota Prius v wagon, and the Volvo XC60 compact luxury SUV.

The headlight tests measure how far light is projected by a vehicle's low and high beams on a straight road and on a curve. They also measure how much glare the vehicle's low beams cause for oncoming drivers. Vehicles with automatic high beams can earn extra points.

IIHS points out that headlight performance is an important safety metric, since about half of traffic fatalities happen in the dark or at dusk or dawn.

Which Vehicles Won?

Rader notes that a wide variety of cars and SUVs, from compact cars under $20,000 to luxury vehicles, have earned the Top Safety Pick+ designation, and new 2017 vehicles will likely be announced as they are tested by IIHS over the next year.

"We’ll see more changes during the year ahead and we expect to see more Top Safety Pick+ winners," Rader says.

Click through the following slides to see the full list of 2017 Top Safety Pick+ winners.