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Top Safety rankings for 2015

The IIHS has released its list of vehicles that fare best in crash testing

Published: December 24, 2014, 9:00 PM
Updated: June 19, 2018, 9:03 AM

IIHS small overlap crash test

If you’re looking to purchase a new vehicle in 2015 and safety is of peak concern, the U.S.’s National Institute for Highway Safety has the naughty and nice list, as we head through the Holidays into a new year.

The IIHS awarded 71 cars with their top safety award for 2015 — the most ever and nearly double last year’s total — with 33 of those stepping up to the top tier Top Safety Plus award. By manufacturer, Toyota garnered the most awards with 12 models being named Top Safety picks, followed by Honda (10) and Subaru (7). Hyundai and Nissan rounded out the top five (with six awards each).

The difference between the Top Safety and Top Safety Plus award is the availability of a front crash mitigation system (where electronics take action to prevent a crash if the driver doesn’t respond to sound and visual warnings) And, the institute adds, these achievements were realized in the face of increasingly demanding criteria.

For example, the forward collision mitigation is not required to include autobrake, whereas before it was required to alert the driver than a crash was imminent. That requirement resulted in several vehicles losing their “Plus” designation.

“Although forward collision warning on its own is a valuable feature, we decided to tighten our criteria to encourage manufacturers to offer autobrake. Systems that don't require a driver response to avoid or mitigate a crash have the most potential for reducing crashes,” says 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.”

The IIHS says its awards encourage automakers to make their vehicles safer, and point to the evolution of the small overlap crash test (widely regarded as the most realistic test, where a corner of the vehicle clips another vehicle, tree or utility pole) as proof of continuous improvement.

The test was a difficult challenge when it was introduced in 2012, but has seen steady improvement in new vehicles over the past couple years. Only 13 vehicles passed it at the beginning of 2013 but very few new cars have a problem passing it with an “acceptable” grade just two years later.

IIHS points to the Honda CR-V compact utility and Toyota Prius v hybrid wagon as prime examples of vehicles that fared poorly in the small-overlap test back in 2013, but elevated their game to not only achieve “good” ratings in the test but also earn Top Safety Plus ratings.

As new generations of vehicles are launched, it is expected that conquering the demanding test that bypasses a vehicle’s energy absorption qualities will become common happening.

The list of Top Safety picks (with “Plus” winners duly noted) are as follows:

MINICARS

  • Chevrolet Spark
  • Honda Fit

SMALL CARS

  • Lexus CT 200h (Plus)
  • Mazda 3 (Plus)
  • Subaru Impreza (Plus)
  • Subaru XV Crosstrek (Plus)
  • Toyota Prius (Plus)
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Dodge Dart
  • Ford C-Max Hybrid
  • Ford Focus
  • Honda Civic 2-door
  • Honda Civic 4-door
  • Hyundai Elantra sedan
  • Kia Soul
  • Mini Cooper Countryman
  • Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Scion FR-S
  • Scion tC
  • Subaru BRZ
  • Subaru WRX
  • Volkswagen Golf 4-door
  • Volkswagen GTI 4-door

MIDSIZE MODERATELY PRICED CARS

  • Chrysler 200 (Plus)
  • Mazda 6 (Plus)
  • Subaru Legacy (Plus)
  • Subaru Outback (Plus)
  • Toyota Camry (Plus)
  • Toyota Prius v (Plus)
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Ford Fusion
  • Honda Accord 2-door
  • Honda Accord 4-door
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Optima
  • Nissan Altima
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Volkswagen Passat

MIDSIZE LUXURY CARS

  • Acura TLX (Plus)
  • Audi A3 (Plus)
  • BMW 2 series (Plus)
  • Infiniti Q50 (Plus)
  • Volvo S60 (Plus)
  • Volvo V60 (Plus)
  • Lincoln MKZ

LARGE FAMILY CAR

  • Toyota Avalon

LARGE LUXURY CARS

  • Acura RLX (Plus)
  • Hyundai Genesis (Plus)
  • Infiniti Q70 (Plus)
  • Lexus RC (Plus)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class (Plus)
  • Volvo S80 (Plus)

SMALL SUVs

  • Honda CR-V (Plus)
  • Mazda CX-5 (Plus)
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (Plus)
  • Subaru Forester (Plus)
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Toyota RAV4

MIDSIZE SUVs

  • Toyota Highlander (Plus)
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • GMC Terrain
  • Nissan Pathfinder

MIDSIZE LUXURY SUVs

  • Acura MDX (Plus)
  • Lexus NX (Plus)
  • Mercedes-Benz M-Class (Plus)
  • Volvo XC60 (Plus)
  • Infiniti QX60

MINIVANS

  • Toyota Sienna (Plus)
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Kia Sedona