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IIHS top picks for safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the organization that crash-tests automobiles and rates them on the basis of safety, has just released its top picks for the 2020 model vehicles. Sixty-four cars and SUVs qualify for an award under new criteria that prioritize the protection of pedestrians in addition to vehicle occupants.

To qualify for a 2020 TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, vehicles must have good ratings in each of the Institute’s six crashworthiness evaluations. They must also have good or acceptable headlights and available front crash prevention that earns advanced or superior ratings in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.

The “plus” is awarded to models that come exclusively with good or acceptable headlights, making it easier for consumers to find properly equipped vehicles. Of the 64 award winners, 23 qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+.

No minivans or pickups qualify for either award so far this year. That could change if automakers make midyear production changes and nominate the vehicle for testing.

“The headlight ratings that have been part of our awards criteria in recent years have pushed automakers to pay more attention to this essential equipment,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “However, finding vehicles with the right headlights can be a challenge for consumers. We wanted to reward automakers that have removed this obstacle.”

Six of the “plus” winners — the Genesis G70, Honda Insight, Hyundai Nexo, Lexus NX, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and Tesla Model 3 — aren’t sold with anything other than good-rated headlights. A good rating means headlights provide the best balance of visibility and lack of excessive glare for drivers of oncoming vehicles.

Twenty TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners and 26 TOP SAFETY PICK winners come with standard systems, as automakers move to meet their voluntary commitment on automatic emergency braking (AEB). The commitment calls for front AEB to be standard on all but the heaviest passenger vehicles by 2022.

IIHS launched pedestrian crash prevention ratings about a year ago and is incorporating them into the TOP SAFETY PICK and TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards for the first time.

Vehicles qualifying for the TOP SAFETY PICK + award are:

Small cars: Honda Insight, Mazda 3 hatchback, Mazda 3 sedan, and Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Midsize cars: Mazda 6, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback built after October 2019, and Toyota Camry

Midsize luxury cars: Lexus ES, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan with optional front crash prevention, 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 with optional front crash prevention, 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; with optional front crash prevention.

These are vehicles with TOP SAFETY PICK +. For the list of vehicles receiving the TOP SAFETY PICK, GOGLE IIHS Status Report and click on the February 13, 2020 issue, or go to https://www.iihs.org/api/datastoredocument/status-report/pdf/55/1.

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