IIHS unveils its top safety picks

December 20, 2013 12:00 AM

When it comes to safety, cutting corners isn't an option. Drivers are always on the hunt for vehicles that will offer excellent protection for passengers and other precious cargo, which is why so many turn to organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for guidance. The IIHS is constantly testing new models to see which ones rank among the safest on the road, and the results of these examinations can provide some much-needed direction in the car-shopping process. 

A new series of tests
This year, the IIHS changed up the criteria for its end-of-year awards. Vehicles that earned the highest accolades had to record a score of "good" or "acceptable" in the small overlap front crash test, which is a relatively new addition to the test. Raising the standards made it tougher for vehicles to achieve high ratings and make the short list of top safety picks. 

"We've made it more difficult for manufacturers this year," said Adrian Lund, IIHS president. "Following a gradual phase-in, the small overlap crash is now part of our basic battery of tests, and good or acceptable performance should be part of every vehicle's safety credentials. We also felt it was time to offer extra recognition to manufacturers that are offering a proven crash avoidance technology." 

The winners
After collecting the results of the research, the IIHS compiled a final list of the Top Safety Picks, as well as the winner of the Top Safety Pick+ Award. Even with the changes, 22 vehicles were able to earn the distinction of Top Safety Pick+, up from 13 last year. Each of these models offer exemplary safety, prioritizing the heath and well-being of drivers and passengers above all else. However, they still provide plenty of other perks, including great fuel economy, low vehicle maintenance, comfort and a slick appearance. 

Honda was the big winner, with six vehicles from its line and luxury brand Acura making the cut. Volvo, Subaru and Mazda also earned high praise with three awards each. Although there was an increase in the number of vehicles that were named Top Safety Pick+, there was a dramatic decrease in the number that earned the most basic Top Safety Pick distinction. Only 17 met the tougher requirements this year, which is exactly 100 vehicles less than 2012. 

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