The IIHS just released its list of vehicles that earned its “Top Safety Pick +” and “Top Safety Pick” designations for the 2014 model year, marking a drastic reduction in the number of vehicles that qualify.
For the second time since 2006, the IIHS tightened the standard it uses to decide which vehicles merit the sought-after title. This year, only 22 vehicles were named to the Top Safety Pick + category compared to 13 last year and an additional 17 earned the less comprehensive Top Safety Pick designation. But that marginal increase is overshadowed by the fact that only 22 vehicles were named Top Safety Picks this year compared to 117 last year.
“By changing the Top Safety Pick award, many vehicles that were on the list last year fall off for 2014. If your’e driving one of those vehicles, it doesn’t mean that your vehicle is suddenly less safe. Your vehicle still offers a high level of crash protection. However, the Institue is raising the bar,” IIHS president Adrian Lund said. “The new list shows people those vehicles with state-of-the-art safety for 2014.”
For some people, safety ratings trump fuel economy, pricing and even style. That’s why the scores cars earn from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are so important. After all, a “poor” score on the IIHS’ small overlap test was enough to wipe several cars from Consumer Reports’ “recommended” list of vehicles earlier this year.
Honda, including its Acura luxury brand, earned a total of six Top Safety Pick + awards and two additional Top Safety Picks. Volvo, Subaru and Mazda each saw three vehicles gain Top Safety Pick + distinctions. Infiniti’s new Q50 sedan also earned the top mark as did the Lincoln MKZ, Toyota Highlander and Prius, Mercedes M-Class and Mitsubishi Outlander.
But the list released today isn’t definitive. It will be updated as more vehicles are tested and the number of Top Safety Picks will likely increase as manufacturers scramble to bolster their vehicles for better results. Certain vehicles including the Toyota Prius only qualify for the Top Safety Pick + award if they were built after November because models made before that time are missing last-minute changes catering to the stricter standards.