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IIHS strengthens requirements for Top Safety Pick awards

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States has strengthened the requirements for its ‘Top Safety Pick’ and ‘Top Safety Pick+’ awards in 2023, demanding better side crash protection and improved pedestrian crash prevention systems and eliminating subpar headlights from the field of qualifying vehicles.

As a result of the tougher criteria, only 48 models qualified for 2023 awards. Of those, 28 earned Top Safety Pick+ and 20 got Top Safety Pick.

This time last year, before changes to the award requirements, there were 101 winners, including 65 earning the higher-tier Top Safety Pick+.

“The number of winners is smaller this year because we’re challenging automakers to build on the safety gains they’ve already achieved,” said IIHS president David Harkey. “These models are true standouts in both crashworthiness and crash prevention.”

Here is the list of winners relevant to the Irish market, with Mazda and Toyota the big winners:

Top Safety Pick+

  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota Camry (built after January 2023)
  • Volkswagen ID.4
  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda HR-V
  • Lexus UX
  • Subaru Solterra (built after October 2022)
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Volvo XC90
  • Volvo XC90 Recharge plug-in hybrid
  • Lexus NX
  • Lexus NX plug-in hybrid
  • Lexus RX

Top Safety Pick

  • Honda Civic (except Type R variant)
  • Honda Civic saloon
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Corolla saloon
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Lexus ES 350
  • Mazda 3
  • Mazda 3 saloon
  • Mazda CX-30
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mazda CX-50
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Subaru Forester

The biggest change to the criteria for both awards is the replacement of the original IIHS side crash test with the updated evaluation launched in 2021.

The updated test involves 82 per cent more energy than the original test. Vehicles must earn an acceptable or good rating to qualify for Top Safety Pick, while a good rating is required for the ‘plus’.

The Top Safety Pick+ criteria includes another new evaluation, the nighttime vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention test.

Advanced or superior performance is required in both the nighttime and daytime pedestrian tests for the higher award. For Top Safety Pick, only a daytime rating of advanced or superior is required.

When it comes to headlights, requirements for the base award have gotten more stringent. Previously, a vehicle could qualify by offering at least one trim level with available acceptable or good headlights, while winners of the ‘plus’ award needed to have them standard across all trims.

For 2023, both awards required standard acceptable or good headlights.

As before, to earn either award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front and original moderate overlap front tests.

The roof strength, head restraint and vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention evaluations are no longer part of the award criteria.