Twenty-three cars and SUVs have captured 2020 Top Safety Pick+ awards and another 41 earned Top Safety Pick status under stricter criteria than ever before, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
However, no minivans or pickups qualify for either award so far this year.
Both 2020 awards require good or acceptable headlights as well as good crashworthiness ratings in six rigorous tests including the passenger-side small overlap front test. In 2019, an acceptable rating in the passenger-side test was sufficient for a vehicle to qualify for the Top Safety Pick award.
Also, in order to earn either a Top Safety Pick+ or a Top Safety Pick award in 2020, front crash prevention that earns at least an advanced rating in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations must be available. Under the previous criteria, only the vehicle-to-vehicle rating was required.
Finally, in order to garner a 2020 Top Safety Pick+ designation vehicles require good or acceptable headlights to be standard equipment as opposed to the previous criteria of a good rating, be it on standard or optional headlights.
The stricter criteria for headlights have pushed automakers to pay more attention to this basic but very essential safety feature.
For example, six of the “plus” winners — the Genesis G70, Honda Insight, Hyundai Nexo, Lexus NX, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and Tesla Model 3 — aren’t sold with anything other than good-rated headlights. A good rating means headlights provide the best balance of visibility and lack of excessive glare for drivers of oncoming vehicles, notes the Institute.
Also worth noting, while vehicles can meet the front crash prevention requirements for either award with optional equipment, 20 Top Safety Pick+ and 26 Top Safety Pick winners come with standard systems, likely due to automakers moving to meet their voluntary commitment on automatic emergency braking (AEB). The commitment calls for front AEB to be standard on all but the heaviest passenger vehicles by 2022.
As for which manufacturers were top performers, Mazda and Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Genesis and Kia brands, lead the way.
Hyundai Motor Group has the most winners overall, capturing 17 — three Top Safety Pick+ and 14 Top Safety Picks. Mazda has the most Top Safety Pick+ awards with five— for the Mazda 3 sedan, Mazda 3 hatchback, Mazda 6, CX-3 and CX-5. The company also earned a Top Safety Pick for the CX-9.