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Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Tests and Awards

IIHS singles out 64 cars and SUVs as the safest of 2020

There’s a new emphasis on protecting pedestrians and occupants this year

Cars on U.S. highways are getting safer, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is singling out 64 models for its 2020 top safety honors.

This year, vehicles must meet new criteria to qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards. They must have a “good” rating in each of IHSS’ six crashworthiness evaluations, and there’s also a new emphasis on protecting pedestrians in addition to vehicle occupants.

The “plus” is awarded to models that come exclus...

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    Jeep Compass earns an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK award

    It's the first redesign for the vehicle in a decade

    The 2017 Jeep Compass, equipped with optional front crash prevention, has been named winner of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) TOP SAFETY PICK award.

    The addition of that feature marks the first time in a decade that the Compass has been redesigned. The award affects models built in the 2017 calendar year; however, a few 2017 models built in 2016 have the old design.

    A vehicle must have good ratings in all five IIHS crashworthiness tests -- small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints -- to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK award. The vehicle must also earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

    The small SUV earned a superior rating for its optional front crash prevention system by avoiding collisions in the 12 mph and 25 mph IIHS track tests.

    Headlights a disqualifier

    The Compass would have qualified for the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award had its headlights not fallen short of an acceptable or good rating.

    The vehicle's optional high-intensity discharge lights and high-beam assist, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams when other vehicles are present, earned a marginal headlight rating.

    Its base halogen headlights were rated “poor.”

    Touting Jeep's safety

    FCA US LLC, Jeep's parent company, expects the IIHS award will improve sales of the Compass.

    Product PR Manager Jordan Wasylyk noted that the new Compass has been on sale in the U.S. for only six months, and that last month it posted its best sales month ever with 11,356 vehicles sold -- an increase of 75 percent from the previous year.

    “As with any award,” said Wasylyk, “it’s confirmation of why the vehicle should be considered for purchase and validates the Jeep brand’s safety claim.”

    However, he added that, “for competitive reasons the company doesn’t disclose projected sales.”

    The 2017 Jeep Compass, equipped with optional front crash prevention, has been named winner of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) TOP SAFE...

    Ten midsize cars earn good ratings on new IIHS crash test

    The test focuses on safety for front seat passengers

    Because it believed some automakers were giving short shrift to the right side of the vehicle, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has instituted a small overlap front crash protection for the vehicle's passenger side.

    A good or acceptable passenger-side rating will be required to qualify for the Institute's 2018 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.

    In the first test group, 10 out of 13 midsize cars earned a good rating, while one was deemed acceptable and two earned a marginal rating.

    "The midsize cars we tested didn't have any glaring structural deficiencies on the right side," said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller. "Optimizing airbags and safety belts to provide better head protection for front-seat passengers appears to be the most urgent task now."

    That test sends a vehicle into a barrier at 40 mph with just 25 percent of the vehicle's front end overlapping the barrier on the driver side.

    It mimics what happens when the front driver-side corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or with an obstacle such as a tree or utility pole.

    The test results

    The Subaru Outback was one of the top performers and its good passenger-side rating also applies to its twin, the Subaru Legacy.

    In the test, the passenger's space was maintained well, with maximum intrusion of 4 inches at the right edge of the toepan. The safety belt and front and side curtain airbags worked together to keep the dummy in place, and measures taken from the dummy showed there would be a low risk of injury in a similar real-world crash.

    The Chevrolet Malibu and the Volkswagen Passat earn a marginal passenger-side rating.

    In both cars, the passenger dummy's head slid off the front airbag and contacted the dashboard. Measures taken from the dummy showed head injuries would be possible in a real-world crash of the same severity.

    In the passenger-side small overlap test of the Subaru Outback, the passenger dummy's head hit the front airbag and stayed there until rebound.

    The Passat is one of five cars with an acceptable, instead of good, structural rating. It had maximum intrusion of 7 inches at the lower door-hinge pillar.

    The vehicle with the most structural damage was the Mazda 6, where intrusion reached 9 inches at the lower door-hinge pillar, compared with 5 inches in the driver-side test. 

    Because it believed some automakers were giving short shrift to the right side of the vehicle, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has instit...

    Close, but no cigar for eight small pickups in IIHS safety tests

    None of the vehicles tested earned any safety awards

    Due to the lack of an automatic emergency braking system and poor-rated headlights, eight small pickup trucks tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) fell short of qualifying for either of the Institute’s safety awards.

    Still, four out of the eight did earn good ratings for occupant protection in all five crashworthiness evaluations.

    IIHS engineers evaluated two body styles of each pickup -- crew cab and extended cab. Crew cabs have four full doors and two full rows of seating. Extended cabs have two full front doors, two smaller rear doors, and compact second-row seats.

    To assess crashworthiness, the Institute rates vehicles as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on performance in five tests: moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints. IIHS also rates the performance of front crash prevention systems and headlights.

    “This group of small pickups performed better in the small overlap front test than many of their larger pickup cousins,” said IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby. “The exception was the Nissan Frontier, which hasn’t had a structural redesign since the 2005 model year.”

    The small overlap test is the most challenging of the IIHS crashworthiness evaluations. It replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that has crossed the center line.

    How they fared

    The Toyota Tacoma crew cab, which Toyota calls the Double Cab, was the top performer in the small overlap test, earning a good rating due to good individual ratings for structure, restraints, and kinematics. It also received a good rating on all injury measures except the lower leg and foot, which was rated acceptable.

    The extended cab, which Toyota calls the Access Cab, had similar results, with the exception of an acceptable rating for structure due to some additional occupant compartment intrusion.

    The Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab and its GMC Canyon Crew Cab twin also earn good ratings for occupant protection in a small overlap front crash. The extended cabs earn an acceptable rating.

    Both the Nissan Frontier King Cab and the Frontier Crew Cab earn marginal ratings. The side curtain airbag protected the dummy’s head from contact with side structure and outside objects in both the crew- and extended-cab tests. Its structure, however, allowed considerable intrusion into the occupant compartment, compromising driver survival space. In a real-world crash like this, the driver would likely sustain serious injuries to the lower legs and left foot.

    The Frontiers earn good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, and roof strength test and acceptable ratings for head restraints.

    The extended-cab versions of the Colorado and Canyon earn good ratings in the moderate overlap front, roof strength, and head restraint evaluations and acceptable ratings in the side test.

    Headlights are a dim spot for all the small pickups evaluated. None are available with anything other than poor-rated headlights.

    “Headlights are basic but vital safety equipment. Drivers shouldn’t have to give up the ability to see the road at night when they choose a small pickup,” said Zuby.

    Models that earn good ratings in the Institute’s five crashworthiness evaluations and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention with standard or optional autobrake qualify for a 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK award.

    Models that also have headlights that earn a good or acceptable rating qualify for a 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.

    Due to the lack of an automatic emergency braking system and poor-rated headlights, eight small pickup trucks tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway...

    Improvements earn Kia Forte TOP SAFETY PICK+ award

    The vehicle's front crash prevention system received a superior rating

    A stronger performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) small overlap front crash test has earned the 2017 Kia Forte the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.

    Among the improvements in the vehicle are an optional, superior-rated front crash prevention system and available good-rated headlights.

    The vehicle has longer side-curtain airbags than earlier models, and Fortes built after March have beefed-up structure at the door hinge pillar and the door sill.

    Improvement in small overlap test

    Those changes gave Fortes built after March a good rating in the small overlap test, which represents a crash in which the left front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or with an object such as a tree or utility pole.

    In the test, the driver's space was maintained well, with maximum intrusion of three inches at the footrest. The dummy's movement was well-controlled, and measures from the dummy indicated a low risk of injuries in a crash of this severity.

    Earlier models of the Forte earned a marginal rating, with intrusion reaching 8 inches at the lower hinge pillar. In addition, the dummy's head contacted the instrument panel, and the side curtain airbag failed to provide sufficient forward coverage.

    To qualify for the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK award, a vehicle must have good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests and an available front crash prevention rating that earns an advanced or superior rating.

    The "plus" is awarded to vehicles that meet those criteria and also have good or acceptable headlights.

    A stronger performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) small overlap front crash test has earned the 2017 Kia Forte the TOP SAFETY P...

    IIHS names redesigned Mazda CX-5 a top award winner

    Headlights made the difference

    The redesigned Mazda CX-5 is the latest vehicle to win the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) highest safety award -- TOP SAFETY PICK+.

    The 2017 model, like its 2016 predecessor, has good ratings in all five of the Institute's crashworthiness tests: small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.

    The small SUV's standard front crash prevention earned an advanced rating, while an optional, higher-speed system was rated superior. Both avoided a collision in the 12 mph IIHS track test, and the optional system avoided a collision at 25 mph.

    The CX-5's Grand Touring and Sport trim lines have headlights that earned an acceptable rating. The former trim includes high beam assist, a feature that automatically switches between high beams and low beams, depending on the presence of other vehicles.

    To qualify for the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK award, a vehicle must have good crashworthiness ratings across the board and an available front crash prevention rating that earns an advanced or superior rating.

    The "plus" is awarded to vehicles that also have good or acceptable headlights.

    The redesigned Mazda CX-5 is the latest vehicle to win the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) highest safety award -- TOP SAFETY PICK+.The...

    IIHS names Chevy Bolt a Top Safety Pick award recipient

    It's the first all-electric vehicle to earn a 2017 award

    A distinction for the Chevrolet Bolt.

    It's the first all-electric vehicle to earn a 2017 award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Unlike the Chevy Volt, the 2017 Bolt has no back-up gas engine.

    The vehicle got good ratings in all five of the Institute's crashworthiness tests -- small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.

    The Bolt also has an optional front crash prevention system that earns a superior rating. It avoided collisions in IIHS track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph, and has a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

    To earn a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must have good ratings in all five crashworthiness tests and an available front crash prevention system with a superior or advanced rating.

    Vehicles that meet those criteria and also have good or acceptable headlights earn Top Safety Pick+. The Bolt is available only with poor-rated headlights, which provide fair to good visibility but produce excessive glare for oncoming drivers.

    A distinction for the Chevrolet Bolt.It's the first all-electric vehicle to earn a 2017 award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). U...

    Mazda CX-9 captures top safety rating in IIHS testing

    The latest test results were superior to earlier findings

    The midsize 2017 Mazda CX-9 SUV has captured the top award offered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    Across-the-board good crashworthiness ratings, a superior-rated front crash prevention system and acceptable-rated headlights made the difference from tests performed on the 2015 model.

    A vehicle must have good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests in order to earn the 2017 "Top Safety Pick+" award.

    Available advanced or superior front crash prevention and headlights that earn an acceptable or good rating are required as well.

    A new design turns the tables

    The CX-9 was redesigned for the 2016 model year. Beginning with 2017 models built after November 2016, Mazda modified the deployment pattern of the side curtain airbags to improve protection in front and side crashes.

    The 2015 model of the CX-9 rated poor for protection in small overlap front crashes, as the structure was seriously compromised and the side airbag didn't deploy.

    It also came up short for roof strength, which is important for protecting occupants in a rollover crash, and for head restraints, which help prevent neck injuries in a rear crash. The SUV earned only marginal ratings in those tests.

    The 2017 CX-9 also offers optional front crash prevention that earns a superior rating. In IIHS track tests at 12 and 25 mph, it avoided collisions.

    The system also includes Forward Collision Warning that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

    The superior-rated front crash prevention comes on the CX-9's Grand Touring and Signature trims, which also are equipped with the CX-9's best available headlights, which are rated acceptable. Other trim levels come with marginal headlights.

    The midsize 2017 Mazda CX-9 SUV has captured the top award offered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)Across-the-board good crashworth...