It’s not everyday that vehicles roll away with a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That recognition — the highest accolade a vehicle can earn from IIHS — recently went to the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, provided the car is equipped with an optional front crash prevention system.
The mid-size luxury car was put through the paces, earning good ratings in six crashworthiness tests. These included the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests.
But acing the basics isn’t enough for IIHS’s exacting engineers. In order to garner “plus” status, vehicles must also be available with a front crash prevention system that earns advanced or superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. Moreover, good or acceptable headlights must be standard across trim levels.
That criterion was no problem for the C-Class. Its optional Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function front crash prevention system more than measured up—earning superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. Models equipped with that specific system are worthy of “plus” status. Unfortunately, the car’s standard front crash prevention system falls short due to a basic rating in the vehicle-to-pedestrian test.
Finally, the C-Class boasts the kind of headlights that enhance safety for drivers, especially at night and during inclement weather. Specifically, the award applies to C-Class vehicles built after January 2021, when Mercedes-Benz made adjustments to one of the headlight packages. Now all available headlights earn either a good or acceptable rating—giving the C-Class the final element it needed to ride high with the Institute’s top accolade.