Auto safety organizations do a job automakers have proven they sometimes won’t do themselves. Between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which mandates recalls and provides safety ratings of one to five stars, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which runs tough crash tests and awards cars Top Safety Pick designations, auto consumers have two worthy allies when shopping for an automobile.
Auto crashes are a fact of life for even the safest drivers. The crash tests run by the IIHS provide a look at what would happen in front and side crashes as well as rollovers and incidents when objects hit the roof of a vehicle. Cars and trucks that score “acceptable” in small overlap front crash tests and “good” in other tests receive the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation for the model year tested. Vehicles that meet the Top Safety Pick criteria then get a basic, advanced, or superior rating in front crash prevention are awarded Top Safety Pick+ (“plus”) designation.
Here are seven 2015 cars named a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS.
7. 2015 Honda Fit
Honda didn’t pass the tough small overlap front crash test with its 2015 Fit the first time around, but engineers updated the strength of the bumper beam so new tests could be performed. The IIHS saw a major improvement in the updated Fit’s performance and gave the new car an “acceptable” rating on the front overlap test.
In addition to the upgrade over the 2009 to 2013 models, the 2015 Fit landed a Top Safety Pick award for its “good” ratings in the other four tests. Honda next began updating its cars made before June 2014 so all could have the higher safety standard. Cars made after June had the strengthened bumper installed.
6. 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX
The Subaru Impreza WRX STI is known as one of the fastest cars for the money ($26,295), and the 2015 WRX has proven to be one of the safest as well. In May 2014, the IIHS handed the 2015 model its Top Safety Pick designation for scoring “good” in the small front overlap test as well as the other four tests. That put the WRX in elite company. Only the lack of front crash prevention capabilities kept the WRX from landing the top honors from the IIHS. For lovers of speed and safety, the WRX is a solid choice.
5. 2015 Hyundai Sonata
Both Hyundai and sister company Kia have proven they produce some of the safest cars on the road. Hyundai’s redesigned 2015 Sonata that debuted at the New York Auto Show landed Top Safety Pick+ deisgnation in July 2014 after scoring “acceptable” in the small overlap front crash test, “basic” in front crash prevention, and “good” in the other four tests the institute performs. As a “moderately priced midsize car,” as the IIHS classifies it, the Sonata has a huge market in the U.S. that will be amplified by its safety rating.
4. 2015 Volkswagen Golf/GTI
Volkswagen’s midsize Passat hit for extra bases with its Top Safety Pick designation, but the 2015 VW Golf and GTI knocked it out of the park with a Top Safety Pick+ designation. Looking at the results, the little VW models scored “good” in the small overlap front crash test, the side crash test, the rollover test, the roof test, and head restraint test. In addition, both cars have available front crash prevention features that landed them the “basic” rating, enough to deliver the Top Safety Pick+ award.
3. 2015 Chrylser 200
Standing in the top three places on this list were cars that scored the highest possible rating from the IIHS in crashworthiness tests. For the 2015 Chrysler 200, the midsize sedan improved upon the performance of the previous generation model by notching a “good” rating (previously “acceptable”) in the small overlap front crash test and the other four tests. To pull off its Top Safety Pick+ designation, the 2015 Chrysler 200 earned a “superior” rating for its capabilities in front crash prevention, namely the autobrake collision warning system that comes in the SafetyTec package.
2. 2015 Subaru Legacy (& Outback)
Like the Chrysler 200, the redesigned 2015 Subaru Legacy left its “acceptable” rating behind in the small overlap front crash test and nailed a “good” rating for the latest model in August 2014 testing. It also scored the highest rating in the other four crash tests before earning a “superior” rating for cars equipped with the optional EyeSight collision warning system. This formula delivered the 2015 Legacy its Top Safety Pick+ designation. The 2015 Subaru Outback, the wagon version of the Legacy, also received the Top Safety Pick+ designation after the tests.
With more IIHS Top Safety Picks than any other auto brand, Subaru could claim the title as safest car company on the road, should it choose to do so.
1. 2015 Hyundai Genesis
In terms of crash tests, there is no way for a car to perform better than the 2015 Hyundai Genesis or other two cars in the top three. The Genesis aced the small overlap front crash test, scored “good” in the other four tests, then notched a “superior” rating for its front crash prevention capabilities. That score highlighted the Genesis’s automatic brake function, which stopped the car at 25 mph before striking the object on the test course. Its Top Safety Pick+ award folowed.
According to the IIHS, the 2015 Genesis was only one of three luxury cars that landed that Top Safety Pick+ designation at the time it was tested (May 2014). As a holder of a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, there is no evidence of any hole in its safety design. With a base MSRP of $38,000, it may finally be this car’s tie to shine.