Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) develops a list of vehicles that are the safest for not only the driver and passengers, but also for pedestrians. The coveted IIHS awards are often trumpeted in automakers’ marketing because many buyers give extra consideration to those vehicles rated highly by the IIHS. IIHS, for the first time in history, is requiring automakers to offer pedestrian-detecting automatic emergency braking systems to be considered for the group’s 2020 top safety picks honors. The picks for 2021 have not yet been announced. And although new 2021 cars are hitting the showrooms, you may still be in the market for a 2020 vehicle still on the lot or you may be shopping for a 2020 program car. Also keep in mind that many of these vehicles will largely be unchanged from 2020 to 2021.
IIHS Top Safety Pick + Winners include only vehicles with pedestrian-detecting technology. Those vehicles include the following:
Small Cars: Honda Insight, Mazda 3 hatchback, Mazda 3 sedan, and the Subaru Crosstrek hybrid.
Midsized Cars: Mazda 6, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback (built after October 2019), and the Toyota Camry.
Midsize luxury cars: Lexus ES, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, and Tesla Model 3.
Large luxury cars: Audi A6, Genesis G70 (built after December 2019), and Genesis G80.
Small SUVs: Mazda CX-3, Mazda CX-5, and Subaru Forester.
Midsize luxury SUVs: Acura RDX, Cadillac XT6 (built after October 2019), Hyundai Nexo, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (built after July 2019.)
The 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick Winners below do not include the pedestrian-detecting technology but are the top of the top in term of safety in the auto industry.
Small cars: Honda Civic coupe, Civic hatchback, Civic sedan, Hyundai Elantra, Elantra GT, Hyundai Veloster, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Subaru Crosstrek, Subaru Impreza sedan, Impreza wagon, Subaru WRX, Toyota Corolla sedan, and the Corolla hatchback.
Midsize cars: Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and the Nissan Altima.
Midsize luxury cars: BMW 3 series and Volvo S60.
Large car: The Kia Stinger.
Large luxury car: The Audi A7.
Small SUVs: Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Kona, Hyundai Tuscon, Kia Sportage, Lexus UX, Lincoln Corsair, Toyota RAV4, and Volvo XC40.
Midsize SUVs: Ford Edge, Hyundai Palisade, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Midsize luxury SUV: The Lexus RX.
Large SUV: The Audi Q8.
IIHS noted that vehicles can qualify for the honors later in the year if the automakers make mid-year upgrades. Other key attributes required to make the two lists include: “good” or “acceptable” headlights. If they’re standard, that’s enough to achieve a Top Safety Pick+. If they’re optional, that’s enough to achieve a Top Safety Pick. Poor headlight performance has been a significant concern among automotive safety advocates in recent years.
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