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Safety is an important feature a vehicle should have when you purchase your next truck, car, or SUV. That’s why many people trust the IIHS regarding car safety evaluations. The safety organization published its yearly Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ winners for the 2023 model year. The only Pick+ award for Nissan went to the Pathfinder, but it wasn’t the only model from the brand to earn high safety ratings.

Let’s look at the two safety pick awards, the Pathfinder’s safety tests, and other vehicles to earn top safety scores for Nissan. 

The difference between Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+

The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) formed a way to grade vehicles based on the model’s performance in strict safety tests. The Top Safety Pick award was given to cars that meet a particular set of requirements. First, a model has to receive a ‘Good’ rating on all crash tests. 

In crash prevention evaluations, a vehicle must have ‘Advanced’ or ‘Superior’ ratings when tested for its avoidance of car crash situations, according to U.S. News. It also should have at least an ‘Acceptable’ score for its headlight performance. 

The Top Safety Pick+ award is similar to the Top Safety Pick earning, except for a few differences. Since it is the highest rating you can earn for a vehicle, the model tested must receive a score of ‘Good’ in all tests across the board. 

When it comes to crash prevention, headlight performance needs to have at least a ‘Good’ rating. However, in 2020, the rules changed slightly to include an ‘Acceptable’ score, provided the tested headlights were on all trims and not offered separately, only on certain models. 

Which Nissan model earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating?

A dark-gray 2023 Nissan Pathfinder midsize SUV model parked on a gravel road framed by wood fencing
2023 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan Motor Corporation

The IIHS shows only one Nissan model earning the highest safety award: the Pathfinder, a midsize SUV. You’ll find that two different 2022 model trims were used in the evaluations.

The Pathfinder S and the SV. The S version received a ‘Good’ rating in the crashworthiness tests, including a side test, small overlap driver-side, and even the more challenging small overlap front passenger-side evaluations. Nissan Pathfinder’s SV model was used in the updated side crashworthiness and roof strength tests. This version scored ‘Good’ in the overall assessment of both tests.

A few other tests were conducted, including the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian (day and night) for crash prevention. These evaluations received a ‘Superior’ rating for all. Headlights and seatbelt reminders earned an ‘Acceptable’ score, which still met the requirements for the Pick+ rating. 

Was it the only Nissan model to earn top safety ratings?

While the Nissan Pathfinder was the only Nissan model to receive a Top Safety Pick+ award, it wasn’t the only vehicle from the automaker to earn top ratings for safety. According to the IIHS, the Nissan Rogue model received the Top Safety Pick award for its 2023 model. The previous version, however, received the Pick+ distinction. 

The Rogue received a ‘Superior’ rating for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian (day) for front crash prevention. However, it struggled with the updated moderate overlap front evaluation test, on which it received a marginal score. 

It also received ‘Acceptable’ ratings for the updated side and seatbelt reminder tests. Overall, it performed well enough to be considered a Top Safety Pick model among other small SUVs.