VIDEO: Lexus IS Small Overlap Crash Test

The 2017 Lexus IS mid-size luxury sedan has qualified for the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the institute said.

The honor reflects changes Lexus made to improve protection in small overlap front crashes and in rear crashes, according to IIHS. To earn the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must garner the highest possible rating of “good” in all five IIHS crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. Additionally, the vehicle must attract a rating of “advanced” or “superior” for front crash protection and a rating of “acceptable” or “good” for headlights.

“IS models built after July 2017 meet those criteria,” IIHS said in a released statement about the award.

At the beginning of the 2017 model year, Lexus reinforced the car’s front-end structure and modified the driver door, lower door-hinge pillar and doorsill to improve small overlap protection. But those changes still weren’t enough to guarantee a top rating in the small overlap test, which replicates what happens when only the front driver-side corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or hits a fixed object such as a tree or utility pole.

In the test of an early 2017 model, intrusion reached 7 inches at the footrest. Measures taken from the dummy showed that injuries to the left lower leg would be likely in a real-world crash of the same severity, IIHS said.

Lexus then made additional changes, primarily to the materials used in the front-end structure and around the footwell. As a result, the structure held up better, with maximum intrusion limited to less than 5 inches at the footrest. There was also a reduced likelihood of lower leg injuries, IIHS said. The overall small overlap rating improved from “acceptable” to “good” for vehicles built after June.

The vehicle’s front seatback was also changed to improve protection against whiplash in rear crashes, as measured by the institute’s test of head restraint and seat combinations. The head restraint rating applies to IS models built after July.

In addition to earning across-the-board good crashworthiness ratings, the IS comes with standard front crash prevention. In IIHS track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph, the car avoided collisions. It also has a forward collision-warning component that meets criteria from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The base LED headlights on the IS drew an IIHS rating of “acceptable” for visibility provided to the driver.

“In track tests, they did not produce excessive glare to oncoming drivers,” IIHS said. The IS is equipped with high-beam assist, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams — depending on the presence of other drivers.