In the list of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks, you see a clear trend in the vehicles winning the highest honors. There are no mini cars with a Top Safety Pick+ award, while the number of small cars with the designation is very low in proportion to other segments.
Once you get to midsize luxury and large luxury cars, there is a much higher percentage of automobiles bearing the safest rating from the IIHS. Expensive, larger cars are simply safer than smaller, more affordable models.
That doesn’t mean consumers on a budget cannot drive home in a reasonably priced car with high marks in crash tests. Here are seven examples of midsize cars priced under $30,000 with Top Safety Pick+ awards for 2015. (N.B. In some cases, optional safety feature will push the base price over this mark.)
1. 2015 Chrysler 200 ($21,800)
The redesigned Chrysler 200 graduated from a Top Safety Pick in the 2014 model year to Top Safety Pick+ for 2015. In addition to a perfect score on the five IIHS crash tests, Fiat-Chrysler introduced the front crash prevention system in the new 200 to nab the highest honors. The institute labeled the midsize sedan’s front crash protection “superior” for the trio of high-speed autobrake, low-speed autobrake, and forward collision warning.
2. 2015 Mazda6 ($21,190)
The Mazda6 made a huge leap in safety standards following the 2013 model year. From two “acceptable” and one “marginal” ratings, the 2014 edition scored “good” in four of the five crash tests while posting an “acceptable” rating for small overlap front test. This performance, coupled with “advanced” front crash prevention systems, earned the 6 Top Safety Pick+ honors in 2014. Mazda6 has the same technology for the 2015 model year and earns top honors for the second consecutive year.
3. 2015 Subaru Legacy ($21,695)
Subaru is the only automaker with Top Safety Pick awards for every model and its midsize Legacy wins the highest IIHS honors in 2015 for the third straight year. Legacy scored the highest rating in each of the five crash tests and received a “superior” rating for its front crash prevention equipment. Forward collision warning, low-speed autobrake, and high-speed autobrake systems make Legacy a Top Safety Pick+ yet again.
4. 2015 Subaru Outback ($24,895)
Like the Legacy, Subaru Outback notched its third consecutive Top Safety Pick+ award for the 2015 model year. Outback shares the same five perfect crash-test scores plus the same “superior” front crash prevention system as Legacy. Along with the high-speed and low-speed autobrake systems, Outback’s forward collision warning makes it one of the safest midsize vehicles on the U.S. market.
5. 2015 Toyota Camry ($22,970)
The 2012 Toyota Camry received the lowest possible score (“poor”) in the first year of small overlap front crash testing, so Toyota engineers got to work. By the 2015 model year, Camry scored the highest possible rating in each of the five tests. Coupled with available front crash prevention systems the IIHS labels “advanced,” Toyota landed Top Safety Pick+ for its midsize sedan. This story should serve as a lesson on how automakers keep best-selling cars on top of the pack.
6. 2015 Toyota Prius V ($26,675)
The Toyota Prius V wagon shares Top Safety Pick+ honors with the smaller Liftback model for 2015. Of all the models on this list, Prius made the biggest leap in safety standards after its “poor” rating in small overlap front crash testing in 2014. For 2015, the new Prius V aced each of the five crash tests. By providing optional front crash prevention for consumers, Prius earned the highest safety rating from the IIHS. Forward collision warning, high-speed autobrake, and low-speed autobrake are optional in the current model year V.
7. 2015 Audi A3 ($29,900)
While destination charges and the front crash prevention systems will surely push the Audi A3 above $30,000, its base price and Top Safety Pick+ honors land it the final spot on this list. The all-new A3, named World Car of the Year in 2014, scored the highest possible rating in each of the five crash tests. In addition, its “advanced” front crash prevention system earned it top honors from the IIHS in 2015.