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IIHS Awards Fewer Vehicles with Top Safety Pick+ Over Tougher Criteria for Headlights

Date: February 13, 2020
Source: Automotive News

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety continues to add requirements to qualify for the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards, as the overall number of vehicle models awarded rises.

IIHS said vehicles must have "good" or "acceptable" headlights as standard equipment to qualify for the 2020 Top Safety Pick+ award. Headlights rated "good" or "acceptable" may be optional for the Top Safety Pick award, the institute said. Vehicles must also offer "advanced" or "superior" front-crash prevention technology to win either award.

Twenty-three vehicles received the Top Safety Pick+ award, down seven from 2019. IIHS President David Harkey told Automotive News that the decrease came from more-stringent criteria for headlights.

Only one Detroit 3 vehicle made the list -- the Cadillac XT6, for models built after October 2019. The California-built Tesla Model 3 also qualified.

Many consumers value the safety designation when they shop for a new vehicle, and dealership salespeople often use the award to help sell the vehicles.

"Pedestrian fatalities have significantly risen over the past decade," he said. "We've seen a 53 percent jump in pedestrian fatalities since 2009. … Having this technology available on vehicles we think is going to be an important part of the solution."

No minivans or pickups qualified for either award so far this year.

"That could change if automakers make midyear production changes and nominate the vehicle for testing," IIHS said. Minivans and pickups "barely missed out" due to criteria relating to pedestrian-detection technology, Harkey said.

To earn a 2020 Top Safety Pick+ award, vehicles must have "good" ratings in IIHS' passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front crash, side crash, roof strength and head restraint tests.

Five Mazda vehicles are 2020 Top Safety Pick+ winners: the Mazda3 sedan, Mazda3 hatchback, Mazda6, CX-3 and CX-5. It also won a Top Safety Pick for the CX-9.

Harkey said Mazda stood out in awards this year because it applied "good" or "acceptable" headlights across its entire fleet.

Hyundai Motor Group, including the Genesis and Kia brands, won 14 Top Safety Pick awards and three Top Safety Pick+ awards.

In addition to the Top Safety Pick+ winners, another 41 vehicles earned IIHS' Top Safety Pick award.

Fiat Chrysler and Mitsubishi failed to have any vehicle model earn either award this year. Ford, Volvo and BMW won Top Safety Pick awards, but no Top Safety Pick+ awards, IIHS said. General Motors, besides the XT6 winning a Top Safety Pick+, won a Top Safety Pick for the Chevrolet Equinox .

Nissan won a Top Safety Pick+ for the Maxima and a Top Safety Pick award for the Altima.

The 64 vehicles that made the 2020 Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick lists, up seven from 2019, can be found here.

Twenty automakers agreed to equip virtually all passenger vehicles with automatic braking by 2022, and many are on track to beat a deadline under a voluntary commitment negotiated in 2015 by IIHS and NHTSA.

"We were pleased that the number was up slightly," Harkey said. "Automakers continue to make improvements. ... A lot of the systems that we have tested have met that criteria. My guess is that by the time we get to the 2022 model year, the AEB systems that will be available will not only cover the vehicle interactions, but it will take care of the pedestrian piece as well."

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