The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has issued its latest list of "Top Safety Pick" award winners for the 2014 model year, and at the same time has announced that it is harder to earn the accolade this year.
"We've made it more difficult for manufacturers this year," says IIHS President Adrian Lund. "Following a gradual phase-in, the small overlap crash is now part of our basic battery of tests, and good or acceptable performance should be part of every vehicle's safety credentials. We also felt it was time to offer extra recognition to manufacturers that are offering a proven crash avoidance technology."
This year, models that receive a "Top Safety Pick" rating must earn the best score of "Good" in the moderate offset frontal-impact, side-impact, rear-impact injury prevention, and roof crush strength tests. Additionally, "Top Safety Pick" winners must achieve an "Acceptable" or a "Good" rating in the small overlap frontal-impact test, which is designed to measure crash protection in a collision occurring on the front left corner of the vehicle, such as when hitting a tree, utility pole, or oncoming traffic.
To receive a "Top Safety Pick+" rating for 2014, a vehicle must first meet these criteria, and in addition offer some form of crash-prevention technology, such as a collision warning system or an automatic braking system. Data shows that such technologies are effective at helping inattentive drivers avoid collisions.
As a result of the new criteria, the list of "Top Safety Pick" and "Top Safety Pick+" models falls from 130 at the start of the 2013 model year to just 39 at the start of the 2014 model year. Nevertheless, Lund thinks car buyers have plenty of options, "Consumers who want both crash prevention technology and the latest in occupant protection have a fair number of vehicles to choose from," he said.
The following 2014 model-year vehicles, listed in alphabetical order, earn a "Top Safety Pick+" designation according to the new criteria. The IIHS will add to this list as it tests additional vehicles throughout the coming year.
2014 IIHS "Top Safety Pick+" Award Winners
Mazda 3 (built after October 2013)
Mazda CX-5 (built after October 2013)
Mercedes-Benz M-Class (built after August 2013)
Toyota Prius (built after November 2013)
The following models meet the new "Top Safety Pick" criteria for 2014, but do not offer collision-prevention technology, keeping them from earning the "Top Safety Pick+" designation this year.
2014 IIHS "Top Safety Pick" Award Winners
Toyota Camry (built after December 2013)