IIHS: Safest Cars of 2015

Well some good news in the car safety department. More vehicles are earning top honors from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety than this time last year.

The 2015 Honda CR-V and 2015 Toyota Prius V now rank among the safest new vehicles you could choose; yet it certainly wasn’t that way with last year’s models—even though they don’t look all that much different.

Both models are among the 33 models to have achieved the highest 2015 Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) nod from the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), one of the two major testing agencies for new cars in the U.S. They stand as proof that crash tests do drive improvements in occupant protection, and that those improvements don’t have to come every five or six years—the typical gap in the auto industry between full vehicle redesigns.

Increasingly, as models and their underlying structures are completely redesigned, more cars are performing well in the IIHS small overlap test, which became a real differentiator between the safest and the rest when it was first introduced in 2012.

Automakers have caught on quickly. The IIHS points to Honda, and its much-improved 2015 CR-V, which was given some structural changes as part of a mid-cycle refresh, boosting its small overlap rating from ‘marginal’ to ‘good.’

This year there are a total of 71 vehicles to meet Top Safety Pick requirements—corresponding to top ‘good’ ratings in moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint (rear) tests—as well as either ‘acceptable’ or ‘good’ in the IIHS small overlap front test. The latter test, which simulates some of the forces of a collision with a tree or utility pole, still proves a challenge for some automakers.

It’s also worth noting that these front crash prevention features aren’t included in most of the top TSP+ models. You’ll have to option up to the right trim—and in some cases, a particular option package—to get the full package worthy of TSP+ status. Only Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Acura have models that offer such systems standard.

The IIHS doesn’t caution away from those vehicles that no longer carry the top nod. “Systems that don’t require a driver response to avoid or mitigate a crash have the most potential for reducing crashes,“ said IIHS president Adrian Lund. “Nevertheless, the models that are losing their plus signs are still great choices for safety, as are all the Top Safety Pick winners.“

Head over to the IIHS site for the full list of Top Safety Pick models, as well as to our full reviews on all of these vehicles, where you’ll find a roundup of safety features and information on crash-test ratings from the IIHS and the federal government.  First, here’s the full list of the highest achievers, the 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick Vehicles:

Minicars

  • Chevrolet Spark
  • Honda Fit

Small cars

  • Lexus CT 200h (TSP+)
  • Mazda 3 (TSP+)
  • Subaru Impreza (TSP+)
  • Subaru XV Crosstrek (TSP+)
  • Toyota Prius (TSP+)
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Dodge Dart
  • Ford C-Max Hybrid
  • Ford Focus
  • Honda Civic Coupe
  • Honda Civic Sedan
  • Hyundai Elantra sedan
  • Kia Soul
  • Mini Cooper Countryman
  • Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Scion FR-S
  • Scion tC
  • Subaru BRZ
  • Subaru WRX
  • Volkswagen Golf (4-dr)
  • Volkswagen GTI (4-dr)

Midsize moderately priced cars

  • Chrysler 200 (TSP+)
  • Mazda 6 (TSP+)
  • Subaru Legacy (TSP+)
  • Subaru Outback (TSP+)
  • Toyota Camry (TSP+)
  • Toyota Prius V (TSP+)
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Ford Fusion
  • Honda Accord Coupe
  • Honda Accord Sedan
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Optima
  • Nissan Altima
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Volkswagen Passat

Midsize luxury cars

  • Lincoln MKZ

Large family cars

  • Toyota Avalon (TSP+)

Large luxury cars

  • Acura RLX (TSP+)
  • Hyundai Genesis (TSP+)
  • Infiniti Q70 (except V-8 AWD) (TSP+)
  • Lexus RC (TSP+)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class (TSP+)
  • Volvo S80 (TSP+)

Small SUVs

  • Honda CR-V (TSP+)
  • Mazda CX-5 (TSP+)
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (TSP+)
  • Subaru Forester (TSP+)
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Midsize SUVs
  • Toyota Highlander (TSP+)
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • GMC Terrain
  • Nissan Pathfinder

Midsize luxury SUVs

  • Acura MDX (TSP+)
  • Lexus NX (TSP+)
  • Mercedes-Benz M-Class (TSP+)
  • Volvo XC60 (TSP+)
  • Infiniti QX60
  • Minivans
  • Toyota Sienna (TSP+)
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Kia Sedona

For more information about the study, check out the IHHS Website.

Image Courtesy: IHHS Youtube

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