When assessing a vehicle model’s overall safety, today’s fleet managers aren’t just weighing crashworthiness. Crash-prevention technology is gaining prominence as a factor as well, particularly when formulating a vehicle selector for executives.
Research shows that forward collision warning and automatic braking systems help drivers avoid front-to-rear crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Front crash prevention systems employ a range of sensor, camera, radar and laser technologies to detect when the equipped vehicle is getting too close to another vehicle ahead. Most of these systems will issue a warning and precharge the brakes to increase their effectiveness if the driver brakes in response. But a growing number of systems also automatically apply the brakes if the driver fails to respond, and some systems activate automatic braking without a warning to the driver.
IIHS started evaluating passenger vehicles for front crash prevention in 2013. In the latest round of IIHS ratings, 14 new models earned the highest rating of “superior” and five drew an “advanced” rating in this category. The vehicles drawing a “superior” rating for front crash prevention are:
- 2016 Acura ILX (Collision Mitigation Braking System)
- 2016 Acura MDX (Collision Mitigation Braking System)
- 2016 Acura RDX (Collision Mitigation Braking System)
- 2016 Acura RLX (Collision Mitigation Braking System)
- 2016 BMW X3 (Collision Warning With Braking Function)
- 2015 Chrysler 300 (Full Speed Forward Collision Warning With Crash Mitigation)
- 2015 Dodge Charger (Full Speed Forward Collision Warning With Crash Mitigation)
- 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (Collision Prevention Assist Plus)
- 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA (both Collision Prevention Assist Plus and Distronic Plus equipped versions)
- 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (Collision Prevention Assist Plus)
- 2016 Mazda6 (Smart City Brake Support and Smart Brake Support)
- 2016 Mazda CX-5 (Smart City Brake Support and Smart Brake Support)
The vehicles scoring an “advanced” rating for front crash prevention are:
- 2016 Volkswagen Golf (Front Assist With Autonomous Braking)
- 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen (Front Assist With Autonomous Braking)
- 2016 Volkswagen Jetta (Front Assist With Autonomous Braking)
- 2015 Volkswagen Touareg (Front Assist With Autonomous Braking)
- 2016 BMW X3 (Collision Warning With City Braking Function).
Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker to offer a standard front crash prevention system earning a “superior” rating in IIHS test track evaluations, IIHS said. The automaker's Collision Prevention Assist Plus is standard on 2015 C-Class, CLA and E-Class vehicles.
Most front crash prevention systems, however, are part of an optional package.
“Vehicles that combine the warning with moderate speed reductions earn an advanced rating,” IIHS said. “It also is possible to qualify for an advanced rating with an autobrake system that doesn’t first warn the driver before taking action. Models that provide major speed reductions in IIHS tests earn a superior rating.”
A model can draw a “basic” rating in front crash protection if the forward collision warning system meets performance criteria set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the autobrake system provides minimal speed reduction in IIHS tests.
To qualify for the 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle model must draw an “advanced” or a “superior” rating in the front crash prevention evaluation; a “good” or an “acceptable” rating in the small overlap front crash test; and “good” ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints/seats evaluations.
Forward collision warning is quickly becoming more widely available. It’s now available on half of the 784 2015 models in the Highway Loss Data Institute vehicle features database, IIHS said. A total of 27 percent of 2015 models offer a front crash prevention system with autobrake – more than twice as many as in the 2012 model year.
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