With all of the recent advances in technology and materials, it’s easy to take car safety for granted. The bar is high, and most modern cars are very safe compared to previous decades.
But if you have a family, a new baby, or are regularly driving children around, you’re probably interested in the very safest of the safe.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) performs crash tests on new car models, and assesses them using a 4-level rating system: poor, marginal, acceptable, and good. They IIHS ratings are based on two main categories: how well the car protects its occupants in a crash, and how well its technology helps in avoiding crashes and lessening their severity.
The IIHS tests safety performance by evaluating six areas:
- Moderate overlap front
- Driver-side small overlap front
- Passenger-side small overlap front
- Roof strength
- Head restraints and seats
Here are some of the safest models on the road, according to the IIHS in various classes.
The BMW X2 leads the pack for small SUVs, earning top marks across every test. It’s the only small SUV to get this rating with standard (no options added) equipment. The standard safety features included in the base configuration are extensive, and include stability control and side, knee, and overhead airbags.
In the midsize SUV segment, no model got perfect marks in all tests in the crashworthiness category without optional safety equipment. But the Honda Pilot came the closest. It got the highest (“Good”) rating in everything except the small overlap front: passenger side test.
The Audi Q8 was the only large SUV tested. It received the highest rating of “Good.”
- Small car
The 2019 Honda Insight—reintroduced after being out of production for four years— got top marks across the board for the small car category. (The model tested was the sedan version, not the hatchback.)
The Insight includes extensive active and passive safety equipment as standard—like side and side curtain airbags, stability assist, lane keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, and forward collision warning.
- Midsize car
Honda also took the top rating in the midsize car category, with the Accord. It was equipped with only one non-standard feature—the LED headlight option.
The Accord scored the highest rating across all areas of crashworthiness testing.
stability assist, brake assist, side curtain and knee airbags, collision mitigation, road departure mitigation, and lane keeping assist.
The minivan category had two top-rated models—the Chrysler Pacifica and the Honda Odyssey.
The Pacifica earned top marks across all crashworthiness tests except for “small overlap front: passenger side,” for which it earned an “acceptable” rating.
The Odyssey swept the crashworthiness tests, with a “Good” rating in each one.
- Large pickups
In the large pickup category, only one model earned a Top Safety Pick designation—the Honda Ridgeline crew cab. The model tested was equipped with two optional features: LED headlights and collision avoidance feature (with automatic braking when the car senses an imminent frontal collision.)
The standard (halogen) headlamps earned a “Poor” rating, so if you’re considering a Ridgeline, the LED package is probably a worthwhile upgrade.