Howard Ankin

IIHS Top Safety Picks

Although the safety list seems to favor SUVs, auto safety studies show that the sheer weight of SUVs makes them safer in an accident than passenger cars. In most cases, the occupants in smaller, lighter passenger cars will suffer more injuries in a crash than occupants in larger, heavier vehicles. The Insurance Institute concluded that full-size luxury SUVs are the safest vehicles on the road. On average, there were just six deaths per million accidents between 2012 and 2015 in big luxury SUVs, compared to 87 deaths for average size four-door passenger cars.

Few small cars made the list, because small cars typically suffer significant damages in a car crash. During the safety institute’s study between 2012 and 2015, the highest death rates were found in very small cars. The worst fatality rates were in accidents involving the Kio Rio, Hyundai Accent, and Toyota Scion tC. The good news is that small cars are getting safer due to advanced auto technologies. The Hyundai Accent, redesigned in 2012, showed a lower death rate in 2014 models than in previous years. The fatality rate also dropped in the Kia Rio after a redesign in 2012. The Toyota Scion tC is no longer being manufactured due to poor crash safety tests and technologies that are now available on some of Toyota’s new small car models. According to the Insurance Institute safety study, the safest cars and SUVs on the road today include:

Passenger Cars

  • Audi A6 all-wheel-drive
  • BMW 535i and 535is
  • BMW 535xi
  • Lexus CT 200h

SUVs

  • Audi Q7 SUV
  • Jeep Cherokee all-wheel-drive SUV
  • Lexus RX 350 two-wheel-drive SUV
  • Mazda CX-9 two-wheel-drive SUV
  • Mercedes-Benz M-class SUV (currently GLE-class)
  • Volkswagen Tiguan two-wheel-drive SUV

The Toyota Tacoma Double Cab four-wheel drive pickup with a long bed is the only heavy-duty truck to make the safety list.

The 2018 Chicago Auto Show

In February, the 2018 Chicago Auto Show held an exhibit at McCormick Place to display cars and SUVs on the IIHS safety list. In addition to the passenger cars and SUVs that made the list, there are several other models on display with outstanding safety features. These include small, midsize, and large luxury cars, as well as economical and luxury SUVs.

The safest small car on exhibit was the Kia Forte, rated as one of the four safest small cars on the road by IIHS. Due to the Kia Forte’s advanced safety technologies including collision warning, driver assist, and blind spot detection, the Kia Forte took top small car safety honors. The other three small models that received excellent safety ratings were the Kia Soul, the Subaru Impreza, and the Subaru WRX.

The safest midsize car was the Subaru Legacy which surpassed new, tougher IIHS safety standards. It earned a 10 out of 10 rating for safety due to its advanced features including lane departure warning, pre-collision warning, and reverse automatic braking systems. Other midsize models that rated highly were the Subaru Outback and the Toyota Camry.

The safest large luxury sedan was the Lincoln Continental which typically fares well in auto safety tests. IIHS named the Lincoln Continental one of the five safest luxury cars on the road today, making it one of only 15 out of more than 1,000 large luxury cars to make the list. The Continental received exceptional marks for its lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic direction, and blind spot monitoring systems. It also won recognition for its dual front, front-side, and side-curtain airbags, as well as its special front-knee airbag protection.

The Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport both received top safety ratings for mid-size SUVs. The crossover has most of the safety features found in more expensive luxury sedans, including side-curtain and driver’s knee airbags, smart technology cruise control, and traction and stability control.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sets high standards for motor vehicle safety to prevent auto accidents that result in serious injuries and fatalities. Potential buyers would be wise to review the list of cars and SUVs on the top safety list before making a purchase.

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