The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety bestowed its new “Top Safety Pick+” award on five new cars after putting them through the organization’s new small-overlap front crash test. The move was enough to rocket cars like the 2013 Honda Civic and 2013 Volvo XC60 to the top of their classes in terms of safety.
While the “top safety pick” rating has been around for a while at the IIHS (117 cars on sale right now have received it), the Top Safety Pick+ award incorporates the new small-offset front test. Unlike standard head-on crash tests that simulate hitting another car with about half of your front clip, the small-overlap format simulates hitting the same car/obstacle with about the width of your headlights. It’s a much more difficult test to ace, as crash forces are distributed over a much smaller area. While a car can receive a Top Safety Pick rating (by acing large-overlap front, side, rollover, and rear tests) regardless of small-overlap rating, a Top Safety Pick+-rated car must also score “acceptable” or “good” in the new crash test.
The Top Safety Pick+ ratings went to the 2013 Honda Civic coupe and sedan, the 2013 Volvo XC60, the 2014 Mazda 6 sedan, and the 2013 Lincoln MKZ. This comes after the Civic and XC60 scored “good” ratings on the small-overlap frontal test. The 2014 Mazda 6 scored an “acceptable” rating; while the MKZ’s rating was unavailable, it had to be at least "acceptable" according to the requirements.
The IIHS says that the Civic showed signs that the body structure was kept well intact during the crash, although the driver’s lower legs and feet had a moderate to significant risk of injury. The XC60 arguably did the best: the body structure was intact, the airbags prevented the driver from hitting anything, and the lower leg/foot injury risk was low. The Mazda 6 scored an “acceptable” rating because the front airbags and seatbelt didn’t slow the driver’s head down quickly enough, so the dummy’s head hit the steering wheel through the deflated bag. No details were available for the new Lincoln MKZ.
With these new IIHS ratings, these five cars earn the title of “best in class.” In the case of the Civic and XC60, they are now the only cars in their classes to win the award; the 6 and MKZ join competitors like the Volkswagen Passat and Acura TL, respectively, as TSP+ winners.
Check out Motor Trend's video of the XC60 crash: