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Every year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does its Top Safety Picks. The organization conducts several tests to determine which cars are the safest in each class. Those groups are based on size, weight, and vehicle type. Looking over the list, there is one big company missing from the rankings, and that company is GM.

Did anything change this year with IIHS safety testing?

IIHS testing
IIHS side-impact testing | IIHS

No Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC truck is on the IIHS 2023 Top Safety Picks analysis. The IIHS has pushed hard to increase headlight effectiveness, so this category, and a few others, have seen qualifications become more aggressive. You can see this in its checklist for side crash protection and pedestrian crash prevention. 

The IIHS tests mean to rate overall crashworthiness, crash avoidance, and safety technology. “Marginal” and “Poor” ratings are at the bottom of the lists, which all automakers wish to avoid. IIHS rankings affect consumer sales, especially in this era of having a gang of information at your fingertips. 

How many vehicles received an IIHS award for 2023?

IIHS testing
IIHS side-impact testing | IIHS

Of the 48 vehicles tested for the 2023 awards, 20 received a Top Safety Pick and 28 scored the more difficult Top Safety Pick+ award. That is a much shorter list than for 2022 when 101 vehicles garnered Top Safety Pick awards. In fact, overall, it is less than those vehicles that scored a Top Safety Pick+. “The number of winners is smaller this year because we’re challenging automakers to build on the safety gains they’ve already achieved,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

To take it one step further, not a single American automaker made it on the 2023 Top Safety Pick+ list. We hear a lot from manufacturers about the importance of quality and safety. These ratings cast a pall over much of that hype. It is interesting to note that Kia, Genesis, and Hyundai, South Korean companies previously viewed as “budget” automobiles, have numerous vehicles in the Top Safety Pick+ awards.

Has GM done this poorly before?

IIHS testing
IIHS side-impact testing | IIHS

The arduous increase in qualifying for the side crash testing involved increasing crash energy by 82% over previous years. These are IIHS “overlap front tests.” A new test was added for pedestrian crash prevention at night. Rating either “advanced” or “superior” in both daytime and night categories rated a Top Safety Pick+. Doing well only for daytime driving garnered only a Top Safety Pick. 

For headlights, the IIHS now requires headlights with an “acceptable” or “good” rating across trims. Before this year, only one model trim per vehicle was required to receive an acceptable or good rating. 

Over the years, GM products have done well in IIHS ratings. Last year alone, the Buick Encore GX, Chevrolet Trailblazer, and Cadillac XT6 all scored Top Safety Pick awards. For 2021, both the Cadillac XT6 and Chevrolet Trailblazer made it to the Top Safety Pick+ list alone. 


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