IIHS Top Safety Pick Criteria Revised For 2014

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has revised its criteria for selecting Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ vehicles for 2014. As a result, the agency has announced 39 new vehicles that receive those awards for the new model year.

Initially, the IIHS has adjusted its ratings so cars that were previously rated Top Safety Pick+ will now only receive a Top Safety Pick rating. The Top Safety Pick designation will be awarded to vehicles that score "good" in front, side, roof-crush, and head-restraint tests, as well as scoring good or acceptable in the small-overlap frontal test. (The Institute uses a scale of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good.) The small-overlap test was introduced in 2012; previously, only vehicles that scored "Good" or "Acceptable" in the demanding test were awarded the Top Safety Pick+ rating. In essence, the revision means cars must be safer in order to be named an IIHS Top Safety Pick from 2014 on.

As a result, the IIHS will continue to have a second level of recognition for cars, the Top Safety Pick+ award, which will now be reserved for vehicles with a forward-collision warning or braking system. Any vehicle with an automatic warning system scores "Basic" in this category, while cars with automatic braking features can score "Advanced" or "Superior" ratings based on IIHS tests of the technologies at 12 mph and 25 mph.

Because forward-collision warning or braking systems are sometimes optional equipment, some models only qualify as Top Safety Pick+ recipients when those packages are equipped. Without those options, the cars will still be awarded the regular Top Safety Pick rating.

"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," IIHS president Adrian Lund said in a statement.

With the announcement of the new rules, the IIHS revealed which vehicles qualify for its new ratings. For the 2014 model year, the Top Safety Pick award goes to the Chevrolet Spark, Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Honda Civic coupe, Hyundai Elantra, Scion TC, Subaru Impreza, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Chrysler 200 sedan, Dodge Avenger, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Acura TL, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and Volvo XC90.

Vehicles that receive the Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2014 comprise the Honda Civic Hybrid, Mazda 3, Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord coupe and sedan, Mazda 6, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Infiniti Q50, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo S60, Acura RLX, Volvo S80, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester, Toyota Highlander, Acura MDX, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Volvo XC60, and Honda Odyssey. Of those entries, only four are rated TSP+ as standard because they feature forward-collision tech on all models: the S60, S80, XC60, and Civic Hybrid.

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