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Most car shoppers want something safe. While some people may assume that any new vehicle will be reasonably safe, that’s not always the case. That’s why organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are important. This non-profit crash tests vehicles to help consumers determine which cars are a fairly safe bet, and which ones are best avoided. This year the number of vehicles that qualify for the IIHS’ top safety awards is bigger than ever. That’s thanks to one key feature upgrade: headlights.

Black 2022 Kia Telluride posed. The Telluride scores high in IIHS ratings.
2022 Kia Telluride | Kia

More cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs qualify top IIHS ratings this year

In 2022 there are a lot of vehicles winning the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards. In fact, 65 vehicles take home the Top Safety Pick+ award. 36 vehicles now own the Top Safety Pick award. That means 101 vehicles are among the safest that the IIHS rates, compared to just 90 vehicles last year, according to the IIHS. That’s thanks to automakers taking headlights more seriously, and making acceptable or good headlights standard on more vehicles.

“We’re excited to see more vehicles on this list in 2022. Our awards make it easy for car buyers to find models that will protect them in a crash and increase the odds they’ll never be in one. By shooting for TOP SAFETY PICK+, automakers are showing that they’re committed to the same goal,” says IIHS President David Harkey.

The IIHS helps people find the safest cars

The IIHS safety ratings are important because they help car shoppers determine what the safest vehicles are. By publishing the results of its crash tests, the IIHS gives people the information they need to make good decisions regarding car safety. Not only are people able to buy better and safer vehicles than ever before, car manufacturers are also being held to a higher standard as people become more aware of just how safe what they’re driving is.

Although a vehicle winning the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award is a definite positive when you’re car shopping, not all vehicles with these awards are equal. The IIHS says, “These awards identify the best vehicle choices for safety within size categories during a given year. Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford more protection than smaller, lighter ones. Thus, a small car that qualifies for an award might not protect its occupants as well as a bigger vehicle that doesn’t earn the award.”

Hyundai Motor Group wins the most safety awards


This Safety Feature Could Prevent Hundreds of Thousands of Accidents

Hyundai Motor Group won 11 Top Safety Pick+ awards and 10 Top Safety Pick awards, for a total of 21 awards. It also has the most wins in every category. Hyundai Motor Group is the parent company of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis car brands. In second place is Volkswagen Group, with 8 Top Safety Pick+ awards and 3 Top Safety Pick awards. Volvo takes third place with 10 Top Safety Pick+ awards.

To win a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must get a good rating in all six crashworthiness categories. It also must have front-crash prevention systems with advanced or superior ratings. At least one headlight system out of all available has to be acceptable or good. To win the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must have good or acceptable headlights standard on every available trim level.

If you’re looking for the safest cars, checking out the IIHS ratings and awards is certainly a good start. Make sure that you check which trim level you’re buying and what kind of headlights come with it so you know exactly what you’re getting. Safety systems can also enhance driver and passenger safety also, so choosing a trim level with all of the important safety systems is another good way to stay safer when you drive.