A Guide to IIHS's Safest Cars of 2015 for the US Market

Yesterday, we provided you with a list of cars that were tested last year by the EuroNCAP and were nominated the safest of 2015. Out of over 40 models tested by the EuroNCAP in 2015, only eight vehicles managed to get on this list.
Volkswagen Passat after IIHS crashtest 54 photos
Photo: IIHS
EU-Spec 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-ClassSubaru WRXHonda Accord2016 Honda Civic2016 Honda CR-V2016 Honda Pilot2016 Subaru Crosstrek2016 Subaru Forester2016 Toyota Avalon2016 Mazda3 hatchbackAcura RLXLexus CT200h2016 Lexus NXToyota RAV4 in Hybrid version2016 Scion iA2016 Toyota Prius V2016 Toyota Highlander2016 Acura RDX2016 Infiniti Q702016 Lexus RX2016 Acura MDXNissan AltimaNissan Murano2016 Mazda CX-52016 Mitsubishi Outlander2016 Subaru Outback2016 Subaru Legacy2016 Hyundai Genesis2016 Hyundai Tucson2016 Hyundai Sonata2016 Volvo S60 Eu-spec2016 Volkswagen SportWagen2016 Volvo S802016 Volvo V60 Polestar2016 Volvo XC902016 Volvo XC602016 Mazda6Special edition Chrysler 200C2016 Subaru ImprezaFiat 500XAcura ILXVolkswagen Jetta GLiLexus ESLexus RCNissan Maxima MidnightVolkswagen GTI2016 Audi Q5EU-Spec 2016 Audi A62016 Audi A3 Sedan2016 Audi Q7BMW 2 Series Coupe EU SpecToyota Camry2016 Volkswagen Passat US-Spec
We also promised to deliver an equivalent list of vehicles sold in the US market, where two organizations conduct safety testing for new cars, IIHS and NHTSA.

Unlike the list that reviews vehicles marketed in Europe and the largest safety organization of this continent, the IIHS and NHTSA have different safety criteria and grading scales.

Instead of issuing a list of the safest vehicles in a segment, the IIHS makes a “Top Safety Pick” list. Then they introduced the “Top Safety Pick+” category, which clarifies the situation, as it only features models with the best ratings in all five crashworthiness tests, and that feature an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

Since the list of vehicles that got the Top Safety Pick Plus distinction is pretty long, we’ll cut the presentation of each vehicle to the minimum so you will have an easy read ahead.

We have taken the freedom of dividing them into classes by relative size and body style, by simplifying the IIHS’s system and merging premium cars with volume models.

We’re only writing about 2016 model year vehicles in this story and only the ones with the Top Safety Pick Plus designation will be presented below. Another relevant note is that most of the models listed achieved the TSP+ distinction with optional front crash prevention systems.

Our list will feature small cars, mid-size cars, full-size cars, and an assortment of SUVs. The latter was split into small, midsize, and full-size as well.

Small Cars and Compact Cars

The smallest car to receive the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ distinction is the 2016 Scion iA, which is a US version of the Mazda2 Sedan. The other models on this list are larger, and they include models like the Acura ILX compact sedan. The list also includes the Honda Civic compact sedan, built by the same corporation. The only hybrid compact segment car to make the Top Safety Pick+ list in its category is the Lexus CT200h hatchback.

Meanwhile, the Mazda3 compact sedan and hatchback is nominated for this award with both body styles. The Subaru range has three models, all on the Impreza platform. Therefore, the Crosstrek compact crossover, Impreza, and the Subaru WRX all get the Top Safety Pick+ distinction.

Similar things happen with the Volkswagen offering, as the Golf receives this award in three versions: the 4-door hatchback, SportWagen, and its GTI version. Audi’s A3 Sedan is also on this list, along with BMW’s 2 Series Coupe.

Midsize Cars

The list of midsize cars is naturally composed of both premium and volume models, and only the versions with front crash prevention protection were eligible for the Top Safety Pick Plus distinction. We begin our list of this category with Lexus’s ES 350 sedan, built on a Toyota platform. Volvo’s S60 and V60 platform brothers also share a TSP+ distinction.

This title is not limited to import cars, like the Chrysler 200 shows. Honda made a substantial presence with its Accord two-door Coupe and four-door sedan. However, Honda is not the only manufacturer with Two models on this list in the midsize class, as Nissan proves with its Maxima and Altima sedans, as well as Volkswagen does with its Jetta and Passat sedans.

Subaru achieves the same feat with its Legacy and Outback models, as does Toyota with its Camry and Prius V. The Mazda6 midsize sedan completes our list along with its Sonata rival from Hyundai.

Full-size Cars

The list of full-size cars with the Top Safety Pick+ distinction only features a volume model, the Toyota Avalon. Meanwhile, Acura’s RLX sedan is listed with the luxury manufacturers, just like the Hyundai Genesis Sedan is. They battle it out with Audi’s A6 and Infiniti’s Q70. The latter only gets the TSP+ distinction without the V8 four-wheel-drive models.

Japanese carmakers are well represented in this class, with a presence from the recently launched Lexus RC Coupe. The recently replaced Mercedes-Benz E-Class is still on the TSP+ list, as is Volvo’s S80 sedan.

Small and Compact SUVs

The first bundle of SUVs to be included in our selection is formed by the smallest of them. According to the IIHS, only the Fiat 500X models built after July 2015 get their esteemed Top Safety Pick+ status. The rating is applied to Honda’s compact SUV offering, the CR-V. Hyundai does not lag behind and gets the same rating for its Tucson. Mazda can also pride itself with a TSP+ rating for their compact SUV, the CX-5.

Mitsubishi gets the same score for their compact-class SUV, the Outlander. Subaru’s Forester and Toyota’s RAV4 complete the list of SUVs with the best safety rating awarded by the IIHS for the 2016 Model Year.

Midsize SUVs

The list of midsize SUVs that received the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus distinction is pretty long, so let’s get on with it. The Honda Motor Corporation has three models with this distinction, but only one sold under its main brand, the 2016 Honda Pilot. Meanwhile, the Acura brand, also owned by Honda, has two midsize SUVs with the TSP+ award, the MDX and RDX, and both belong in the same class.

Audi is the only German carmaker with a model in this category with the TSP+ distinction, the Q5. Nissan also has one model in this group with the award, the Murano SUV, as does Toyota, with its Highlander.

Lexus prides itself on two models in the midsize segment that received the best assessment from the IIHS, the NX, and RX. The Lexus NX and RX are the only SUVs in this class that also come in hybrid versions and have achieved this distinction.

The other brand with two SUVs with the Top Safety Pick+ distinction in this segment is Volvo, which reached this feat with the XC60 and XC90 models. Both have excellent active and passive safety features.

The only full-size SUV awarded with the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus distinction is the Audi Q7.

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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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