IIHS rates car safety in end of year tests

It’s important to keep an eye on who makes the safest cars, as really, how your car can handle the horrible situation of a car crash should be a key decision when it comes to choosing which one you’ll buy – especially if it’s for a child or loved one. With that in mind, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has released a breakdown of all of the cars its tested this year, with their associated ratings.

It looks from the results that overall car safety is improving leaps and bounds, as this year 71 vehicles received the organisation’s top honours. Compared with last year, when just 39 cars were given the same grade, that shows a big leap in safety across the board.

This year the firm with the most cars given top marks was Toyota, which in the end had 12 of its cars given “good” results for both front crash prevention and the “small overlap test,” where a head on collision is not directly head to head, but instead has one half of the car’s front hit a similarly small section of something solid. This can concentrate the damage and shows how safe a car really is when it comes to very heavy impacts. As a test, it’s designed to replicate “what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole,” according to the IIHS.

Fortunately, lots of cars passed with flying colours.

“This is the third year in a row that we are giving automakers a tougher challenge to meet,” says IIHS President Adrian Lund. “The quest for TOP SAFETY PICK and TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards is driving improvement in the small overlap front crash test and getting manufacturers to offer automatic braking technology on more and more vehicles.”

But which ones were the best? Well, looking through the list of cars and their ratings (available here), Subaru received some top awards, with its Impreza, Legacy, Outback, XV Crosstrek and Forester all receiving top marks in both the frontal collision and small-overlap tests. Toyota as mentioned above, did very well with most of its vehicles, though interestingly while they almost unanimously received top marks in their small overlap tests, it didn’t receive brilliant awards in the front crash prevention. Most of them were still considered “advanced,” in terms of protection, but it was easily outshone by the “superior,” ratings of most of the Subaru vehicles.

Unsurprisingly, Volvo also received a lot of high marks for its vehicles. I say unsurprising, because it recently announced that by 2020 it would have a perfectly safe car, that would never injure a pedestrian or passenger in any instance ever again. While an incredibly bold claim, it’s obviously off on the right track, as many of its cars like the S60 and V60 received near top marks for safety on both the frontal collision tests and small overlap tests.

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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