2021 IIHS Top Safety Pick Awards Only Left Out 1 Japanese Automaker

Safety is a top priority for most drivers. Whether you’re hauling the kids to school or commuting to work, you want to be confident in your car. Thankfully, experts such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) help shoppers identify the safest new vehicles on the market.

Most manufacturers have a few models that earn the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick award list year after year. However, the independent organization left one Japanese automaker off its list entirely in 2021. 

Which brand fell short, and should you avoid buying its models? Let’s take an in-depth look into the IIHS’s analysis and get other safety experts’ opinions to determine the answer.

Which automaker didn’t earn any 2021 IIHS Top Safety Pick awards?

A red 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross on display at an auto show with some other SUVs in the background
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross featured at the 2020 Brussels Expo | Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Mitsubishi is off to a tough start in 2021, as it couldn’t secure one of the IIHS’s coveted honors. But it might hurt even more that the brand stands alone with this dishonor. The Japanese manufacturer is the only significant manufacturer not to have at least one model earn a Top Safety Pick award.

According to CNET, the IIHS awarded 90 vehicles in the U.S. market. That’s an increase over the 64 models that earned recognition by February of 2020. This figure includes the 49 cars that achieved the IIHS’s highest honor of Top Safety Pick +.

The publication also stated that the Hyundai Motor Group earned the most awards. Comprised of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis, this entity took home Top Safety Pick Awards for 12 of its models.

Mitsubishi doesn’t have nearly the same number of offerings in its lineup. However, its failure to secure at least one award is surprising, nonetheless.

The Japanese automaker is already struggling to keep up with its competitors. Other manufacturers have consistently evolved to meet the IIHS’s lofty expectations. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi is fading in the background.

These Mitsubishi safety ratings leave shoppers wanting more

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The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 sedan earned the most troubling ratings. The IIHS gave it the second-lowest score of ‘marginal’ in the driver-side front crash test and an ‘acceptable’ rating in the side crash test. Meanwhile, the 2021 Mirage hatchback fared better with the highest score of ‘good’ in the side crash test, but it didn’t offer any improvement in the front crash test.

The IIHS found the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport to be more structurally sound. An ‘acceptable’ mark in the driver-side front crash test is the only blemish on its record. However, the IIHS also noted that its vehicle-to-pedestrian front-crash prevention system only offers ‘basic’ protection. Plus, it gave the crossover’s LATCH system an ‘acceptable’ ease-of-use score.

Notably, the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander three-row SUV earned a 2019 Top Safety Pick award. But Mitsubishi didn’t release a 2021 version of the vehicle, as it is being redesigned for the 2022 model year. Plus, the IIHS beefed up its headlights standard last year, making it more challenging to earn Top Safety Pick status. So, the upcoming 2022 Outlander isn’t a shoo-in to earn any safety accolades.

Additionally, Mitsubishi didn’t release an Eclipse Sport in 2021, and the IIHS didn’t fully evaluate the 2021 Outlander Sport PHEV. However, neither model earned Top Safety Pick status in 2020 anyway.

Are all Mitsubishi vehicles unsafe?

A silver 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV safely driving down a highway road
The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV isn’t an IIHS Top Safety Pick, but it’s one of the brand’s safer vehicles | Mitsubishi

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By analyzing the IIHS’s results may lead you to think all Mitsubishi models are unsafe. But the answer isn’t that simple. Whether this Japanese automaker makes any safe cars depends on which outlets you trust more. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) is a government-backed organization that also conducts crash tests. It shares some similar testing with the IIHS, but it also provides unique inspection areas – such as a rollover risk assessment.

Mitsubishi fared better in the NHTSA’s testing. The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV earned a five-star overall safety rating. However, the NHTSA gave the Outlander Sport and the 2021 Mirage disappointing four-star overall safety ratings.
Meanwhile, the organization hasn’t yet provided ratings for the newly refreshed 2022 Eclipse Cross and 2022 Outlander. However, it awarded five-star overall safety ratings to the 2020 iterations of these SUVs.