VIDEO: 2016 Toyota Highlander Crash Test

The 2016 model-year Toyota Highlander has won the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Last year’s model was also a Top Safety Pick+, but IIHS tightened the award criteria for 2016. Previously, an “acceptable” rating for small overlap protection was enough, but now a “good” rating is required. Toyota made structural modifications to improve small overlap performance for 2016.

To qualify for Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn “good” ratings in all five crashworthiness evaluations — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. Additionally, Top Safety Pick winners must have an available front crash prevention system that earns a “basic” rating. Vehicles earning the “plus” have an “advanced” or “superior” rating. The Highlander’s optional front crash prevention is rated “advanced.”

“During the test of the 2016 Highlander, the dummy’s movement was better controlled than in the test of the earlier model,” IIHS said. “The head hit the front airbag, which stayed in front of the dummy until rebound. In contrast, the dummy in the previous test slid off the airbag’s left side.”

To view video footage of the Highlander’s small overlap crash test, click on the photo or link below the headline.