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Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai Group Top IIHS Safety Ratings

Tougher headlight criteria reduce number of Top Safety Pick+ winners
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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released its initial ratings for 2020-model vehicles.

The good news: 41 vehicles qualified for the group’s Top Safety Pick (TPS) rating, which is 14 more than last year.

The bad news: Only 23 vehicles received the top TPS+ designation. This is down from 30 models in 2019.

Lighting Matters

The lower TPS+ scores are attributed to IIHS’ tougher headlight criteria. Vehicles now must have either “good” or next-best “acceptable” headlights across all trim levels to qualify. Offering such systems as options isn’t enough anymore.

Only six models—the Genesis G70, Honda Insight, Hyundai Nexo, Lexus NX, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and Tesla Model 3—are sold exclusively with “good” headlights.

The ratings take into account low- and high-beam performance on straight and curvy roadways, as well as glare for oncoming traffic. To get the top “good” rating, a vehicle’s headlights must provide the best balance of visibility and lack of excessive glare.

The safety group began testing headlights in 2016. At that time, it said about half of all fatal crashes in the U.S. occur after dark.

Other Factors

TPS winners must have "good" ratings across IIHS’ six crash tests. This is the first year that the honor requires a top rating for the institute’s recently added passenger-side overlap front crash test.

Vehicles also must offer “advanced” or “superior” front crash prevention systems for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian accidents. The pedestrian requirement also was added this year.

Winners

Mazda accounted for five of the 23 TPS+ winners (see below). It also won a TPS award for the CX-9 large crossover.

Subaru was next best with four TPS+ models. Genesis, Lexus and Mercedes each had two winners.

The TPS+ winners by brand are:

  • Acura (RDX)
  • Audi (A6)
  • Cadillac (XT6)
  • Genesis (G70, G80)
  • Honda (Insight)
  • Hyundai (Nexo)
  • Lexus (ES, NX)
  • Mazda (Mazda3 hatchback, Mazda3 sedan, Mazda6, CX-3, CX-5)
  • Mercedes-Benz (C-Class sedan, GLE-Class)
  • Nissan (Maxima)
  • Subaru (Crosstrek hybrid, Legacy, Outback, Forester)
  • Tesla (Model 3)
  • Toyota (Camry)

With 17 winners, Hyundai Motors Group (Hyundai, Genesis and Kia) had nearly twice as many overall TPS/TPS+ models as any other carmaker. It was followed by Subaru (9), Toyota/Lexus (8) and Honda/Acura (7).

IIHS evaluates more than 200 vehicles annually. But some aren’t tested until later in the year.

No Fiat Chrysler or Mitsubishi tested vehicles have earned TPS or TPS+ ratings thus far this year. Neither have any minivans or pickup trucks from any carmaker.

The full list of TPS winners is available here.

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