Photo of Toyota Highlander courtesy of Toyota.

Photo of Toyota Highlander courtesy of Toyota.

The 2017-model year Toyota Highlander has earned the Top Safety Pick+ award, the highest honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

IIHS credited the SUV’s “good crash protection across the board, a superior-rated front crash prevention system and acceptable-rated headlights” for the award qualification. 

Unlike most Top Safety Pick+ winners, which only meet front crash prevention and headlight criteria when equipped with optional features, the Highlander qualifies for the award with standard equipment, IIHS pointed out.

The midsize SUV’s new standard front crash prevention system represents an improvement over the optional system on the 2016 model, which earned an “advanced” rating, IIHS said. In IIHS track tests of the 2017 system, the vehicle avoided a collision in the 12 mph test. In the 25 mph test, the Highlander avoided a collision in four out of five runs and slowed 21 mph the fifth time.

The front crash prevention system also includes a forward-collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

To qualify for 2017 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn the highest possible score — a rating of “good” — in the five IIHS crashworthiness tests: small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints. The vehicle also must earn an “advanced” or “superior” rating for front crash prevention and an “acceptable” or “good” headlight rating.