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IIHS updates its testing criteria to focus on pedestrians and back-seaters


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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes carmakers need tougher safety challenges, so it changed some criteria of its testing regimen to focus on problem areas. Moving the goalposts for this is primarily intended to address safety needs for those in the back seat and the nagging issue of pedestrian deaths via pedestrian-avoidance technology. The IIHS noted, "Pedestrians represent an increasingly large share of crash deaths, and pedestrian fatalities are currently at their highest level since the early 1980s. Most pedestrian crashes occur during the day, when there are more people on the roads, but three-quarters of fatal pedestrian crashes happen at night."

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The organization updated its 2023 tests as well, which had the result of culling the list of Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ award recipients from 101 in 2022 to 48 at the beginning of 2023. Automakers got the memo ahead of time, with the IIHS saying that 71 vehicles won laurels in the revised 2024 testing, an improvement of 23 vehicles compared to 2023.

Starting with the tough new side-impact test inaugurated last year, which uses a heavier ram vehicle to better emulate crashes with heavier modern cars, automakers previously could earn the Top Safety Pick award with a rating of either "Acceptable" or "Good". For 2024, a "Good" result is required to get the award.

The pedestrian crash prevention test protocol is changed. Instead of judging a vehicle's ability to detect and avoid hitting people in the daytime and nighttime separately, the new test issues a single result for tests run in the day and the night. In 2023, vehicles could earn the Top Safety Pick even if they couldn't detect or avoid pedestrians in the dark. In 2024, to get either award, a vehicle must earn an "Advanced" or "Superior" rating in the test, mandating a minimum standard of performance at night.

In the IIHS famed moderate overlap test, the rating requirements haven't changed, but the organization added a third dummy in the seat behind the driver. That means the required "Good" rating takes another vehicle occupant into account.

For the 2024 model year, IIHS Top Safety Pick winners are:

Small Cars

Midsize Cars

Large Car

Midsize Luxury Cars

Large Luxury Cars

Small SUVs

Midsize SUVs

Large SUVs

  • Audi Q7

  • Audi Q8 e-tron

  • Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron

  • Rivian R1S

Midsize Luxury SUVs

  • Acura RDX

  • Audi Q4 e-tron

  • Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron

  • Genesis Electrified GV70

  • Genesis GV70 built after November 2023

  • Infiniti QX60

  • Lexus NX

  • Lexus NX Plug-in Hybrid

  • Lexus RX

  • Mercedes-Benz GLC

  • Volvo XC90

  • Volvo XC90 Recharge

Minivans

  • Honda Odyssey

  • Toyota Sienna

Small Pickup

  • Hyundai Santa Cruz

Large Pickups

  • Rivian R1T crew cab

  • Toyota Tundra crew cab

  • Toyota Tundra extended cab

And IIHS Top Safety Pick+ winners:

Small Cars

  • Acura Integra

  • Mazda 3 hatchback

  • Mazda 3 sedan

  • Toyota Prius

Midsize Cars

  • Honda Accord

  • Hyundai Ioniq 6

Large Luxury Car

  • Genesis Electrified G80

Small SUVs

  • Genesis GV60

  • Honda HR-V

  • Hyundai Kona

  • Mazda CX-30

  • Mazda CX-50 (built after August 2023)

Midsize SUVs

  • Ford Explorer

  • Kia Telluride

  • Mazda CX-90

  • Nissan Pathfinder (built after November 2023)

  • Subaru Ascent

Midsize Luxury SUVs

  • Acura MDX

  • BMW X3

  • Genesis GV80 (built after August 2023)

  • Mercedes-Benz GLE Class (with optional front crash prevention)

  • Tesla Model Y

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