Looking for a vehicle that’ll keep you safe and also help you save money on car insurance? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Picks” list for 2016 is a great place to start your search.
This non-profit organization has tested vehicles annually since 2006 to see how well they protect occupants in a crash. The IIHS also tests how successfully various cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans prevent frontal collisions.
It does all of this to reduce the losses—deaths, injuries, and property damage—caused by the millions of traffic accidents that happen on American roads every year.
That’s important for all sorts of obvious reasons. A less obvious one is you can save money on car insurance if you buy a vehicle considered safe. These autos are involved in fewer crashes than those that are less safe, so insurers usually will reward you for lowering their risk.
More Than 70 Top Safety Picks
Going back to the IIHS, it gives autos that perform best in its tests one of two awards: TOP SAFETY PICK+ or TOP SAFETY PICK.
To receive a TOP SAFETY PICK nod, a vehicle must earn good ratings in five crashworthiness tests. It also has to receive a basic rating for front crash prevention. To qualify as a TOP SAFETY PICK+, it has to get a good rating in the previous areas plus an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
The IIHS has given these awards to more than 70 different 2016 vehicles so far. Here’s a small selection of them. All are 2016 models, by the way, except for the Kia Sportage and the Audi Q7.
Mini Cooper--The 2016 Mini Cooper is a TOP SAFETY PICK+ due to its “good crashworthiness ratings across the board and an advanced rating for front crash protection,” the IIHS says. It awarded the latter because “the car avoided a collision in three out of five runs at 12 mph and slowed to 1 to 3 mph in the others. At 25 mph, its impact speed was cut by an average of 7 mph.”
Other notable minicars: Scion iA
Toyota Prius--The IIHS gave the 2016 Toyota Prius its top award thanks to its optional, superior-rated front crash prevention system. Another reason it’s a TOP SAFETY PICK+ is it performed well on something known as the small overlap front test. Earlier versions of this hybrid scored good ratings in four of five crashworthiness tests, but only got an “acceptable” for small overlap protection.
Other notable small cars: Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Civic, Kia Soul, Mazda 3
Midsize Moderately Priced Cars
Nissan Altima--Nissan also offers a front crash prevention system to people who buy its Altima. That helped it avoid collisions during the IIHS’ 12 mph track test. It also cut the car’s impact speed by 10 mph in the 25 mph test.
Other notable small cars: Chrysler 200, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Jetta
Midsize Luxury/Near Luxury Cars
Notable midsize luxury/near luxury cars: Audi A3, BMW 2 series, Volvo S60
Large family cars
Toyota Avalon--The IIHS rewarded Toyota’s decision to add autobrake to the company’s Avalon line of large family cars for the 2016 model year with a TOP SAFETY PICK+ nod. That’s probably because it helped these sedans earn a superior rating for front crash protection.
Large luxury cars
Notable large luxury cars: Acura RLX, Lexus RC, Mercedes E-Class
Kia Sportage--Why does the IIHS consider the 2017 Sportage worthy of a TOP SAFETY PICK+ award? Kia recently redesigned it in such a way that its rating on the small overlap crash test jumped from poor to good. It also finished the institute’s four other crashworthiness tests with a “good” rating. Its optional front crash prevention system, on the other hand, is considered “superior.”
Other notable small SUVs: Buick Encore, Fiat 500X, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander
Notable midsize SUVs: Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Kia Sorento, Nissan Murano
Midsize Luxury SUVs
Infiniti QX60--One reason to buy a QX60 if you’re looking for a safe midsize SUV and you can afford its price tag: it passed all of the IIHS’ crashworthiness tests with flying colors. Another reason: its optional front crash prevention system is also worthy of praise. For example, the QX60 avoided collision in both the 12 mph and 25 mph track tests.
Other notable midsize luxury SUVs: Acura MDX, Audi Q5, Lexus RX, Mercedes GLE-Class
Notable large SUV: 2017 Audi Q7
Honda Odyssey--The Odyssey is another vehicle that made the IIHS list after a design update. In the case of this Honda product, the redesign improved occupant protection in small overlap frontal crashes.
In fact, according to the institute’s report on the vehicle, these changes helped maintain its driver space “reasonably well.” Also, test results suggest there’s a low risk of significant injuries to Odyssey occupants involved in small overlap frontal crashes.
Another notable minivan: Kia Sedona
Notable large pickups: Ford F-150 Crew cab pickup and Ford F-150 Extended cab pickup