IIHS names America's safest cars
Unexpected absences as the top picks list shrinks from 130 vehicles to just 39.
The old adage that "safety doesn't sell" certainly doesn't apply today. It has become just as critical a factor in the buying decision for most American motorists as fuel economy.
So, there could be a lot of attention paid to the latest list of America's safest cars for 2014, at least according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A total of 22 vehicles made the trade group's most prestigious list, those given a Top Safety Pick+ rating, while another 17 got the still significant Top Safety Pick imprimatur.
There were a number of surprises delivered by the IIHS, however, including the absence of the new Toyota Corolla from the list. Only four products from the Japanese maker — and not a single one of its Lexus models — made this year's safest cars list. Indeed, while there were a whopping 130 different models that made the cut for 2013, only a total of 39 are on the list this year.
"We've made it more difficult for manufacturers this year," says Adrian Lund, president of the IIHS, which has been awarding Top Safety Picks since 2006, adding the Top Safety Pick+ category in 2012.
The latter category has proven a particularly challenging one since it requires a vehicle to perform well in the so-called small overlap test. Designed to replicate a common type of real-world crash, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph. The test reflects what happens when the front corners of two vehicles collide, or when a car clips a tree or utility pole.
Several manufacturers have done poorly in the new test, leading both the IIHS and Consumer Reports magazine to downgrade a number of Toyota products — the influential nonprofit magazine lifting its Recommended Buy rating for the Camry earlier this year.
The Camry did get a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, but only models "built after November 2013" when the maker rushed in with changes designed to improve the vehicle's performance in the small offset test. Similarly, only those Toyota Prius hybrids built since last month get a Top Safety Pick+ rating.
Real-world crash statistics have shown that the latest safety technologies are responsible for a sharp reduction in traffic accidents — and fatalities — in recent years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced a program designed to encourage manufacturers to push even more high-tech gear into production. And the IIHS is backing that effort with its safety ratings, notably giving bonus points to manufacturers who adopt the newest forward collision warning and autobrake systems.
In fact, most of the vehicles that earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating get there only by offering some form of forward collision system — whether a basic version that sounds an alert or the more advanced versions that can bring a car to a halt if an obstacle is detected.
"Consumers who want both crash prevention technology and the latest in occupant protection have a fair number of vehicles to choose from," Lund says. "We hope manufacturers will continue to incorporate front crash prevention, developing more robust systems and adding them to more trim levels or, better yet, making them standard equipment."
Here's the complete list from the IIHS for 2014:
Top Safety Pick+
- Toyota Highlander
- Honda Odyssey
Top Safety Pick
- Chevrolet Spark
Midsize luxury/near-luxury car
- Acura TL
- Mitsubushi Outlander Sport
Midsize luxury SUV
- Volvo XC90
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Japanese vehicles on the list: 23 Toyota, Honda and Subaru each with at least 7
American vehicles on the list: 7 ( all Big Three combined!)
European vehicles on the list: 6
US vehicles on the "Top safety pic plus" list:
Japanese vehicles on that list:
So much for the ignorant claims that Japanese cars are less safe than American cars.
At Shelbyz, I did not know that Japanese auto makers owned US government agencies......very interesting! I bet you believe in Bigfoot and UFO's too huh?
At Ricers, Arizona Azz, Josie, Mac, Fireman.......well? You all claim their cars are junk, now OUR government DRASTICALLY disputes your claims. So who is wrong, our government or you??? I'm going with the blatantly obvious choice.....YOU.
Can't wait to see how you try to twist this one around to claim the IIHS is flat out wrong, or our government agency is on the take, or change the subject altogether and try to talk about recalls, or call me names, all of which will just make you look foolish.
For every vehicle that a Japanese manufacturer has that didn't make the list, it appears that Chrysler, Ford and GM has about four. Can't use that argument.
Since I don't plan on driving it into a brick wall, I just buy the car I like. That's probably a result of growing up in the 50s and early 60s. We spent our time practicing duck and cover in the event of a nuclear war. A car wreck ain't sh*t compared to a nuke.