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IIHS has raised its standards for crash test safety — these are the safest cars for 2024

Higher standards to Top Safety Pick awards by IIHS

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In case you haven’t noticed, cars and trucks have become significantly more advanced over the last few years, and most of those advancements have thankfully come in the name of safety. It wasn’t that long ago that having antilock brakes and airbags was a significant breakthrough in modern tech. But now, with everything from pedestrian detection to automated emergency braking to adaptive cruise control, cars have never been safer.

With that in mind, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has raised its standards for automakers to earn their top awards in 2024.

Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+

The independent company’s top two awards are now the Top Safety Pick, and much like every app and streaming service uses to denote a slightly more premium variant, the Top Safety Pick+ returns as the ultimate prize. Regarding the updated standards, IIHS says:

Last year’s biggest change was the replacement of the original side crash test with an updated version that uses a heavier barrier traveling at a higher speed. Initially, an acceptable or good rating was enough to garner the lower-tier TOP SAFETY PICK award. In 2024, a good rating is required for either TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+.

In addition, vehicles now need an acceptable or good rating in a revised version of the pedestrian front crash prevention evaluation to qualify for either award. The new version replaces the earlier daytime and nighttime tests with a single evaluation that includes some test runs in daylight and some in the dark. Last year, vehicles could earn the lower-tier award regardless of whether they could detect and avoid pedestrians in the dark.

The Moderate Front Overlap test is when “a vehicle travels at 40 mph toward a barrier with a deformable face made of aluminum honeycomb. Forty percent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver’s side.

To attain the Top Safety Pick+, vehicles must now earn an ‘acceptable’ or ‘good’ rating for their updated front overlap test, adding to the standard driver’s crash test dummy. The new test also places a dummy in the back seat behind the driver, emphasizing the long overdue need to tend to somewhat neglected rear passengers.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 front end angle from passenger's side with a city in the back.

49 cars earned Top Safety Pick, while 22 earned Top Safety Pick+

Just 22 cars earned the gold medal of crash test safety for 2024 in the form of the Top Safety Pick+, which requires the following:

  • Good ratings in the small overlap front test
  • Acceptable or good in the updated moderate overlap front test
  • Good rating in the updated side test
  • Acceptable or good headlights standard
  • Acceptable or good in the pedestrian front crash prevention test

This exceptional level of safety has only 22 winners across six categories:

Small cars

  • Acura Integra
  • Mazda 3 hatchback
  • Mazda 3 sedan
  • Toyota Prius

Midsize Cars

  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Ioniq 6

Large luxury car

  • Genesis Electrified G80

Small SUVs

  • Genesis GV60
  • Honda HR-V
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Mazda CX-30
  • Mazda CX-50 built after August 2023

Midsize SUVs

  • Ford Explorer
  • Kia Telluride
  • Mazda CX-90
  • Nissan Pathfinder built after November 2023
  • Subaru Ascent

Midsize luxury SUVs

  • Acura MDX
  • BMW X3
  • Genesis GV80 built after August 2023
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE Class with optional front crash prevention
  • Tesla Model Y

Sitting just one rung down (but still admirable) is the Top Safety Pick, which requires the following:

  • Good ratings in the small overlap front test
  • Good rating in the original moderate overlap front test
  • Good rating in the updated side test
  • Acceptable or good headlights standard
  • Acceptable or good rating in the pedestrian front crash prevention test

This award has 49 recipients across twelve categories:

Small cars

  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Toyota Prius Prime

Midsize cars

  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota Camry

Large car

  • Toyota Crown

Midsize luxury cars

  • BMW 5 series
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Large luxury cars

  • Genesis G80
  • Genesis G90

Small SUVs

  • BMW X1
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hyundai Ioniq 5
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Kia Sportage
  • Lexus UX
  • Lexus RZ
  • Subaru Solterra

Midsize SUVs

  • Honda Pilot
  • Hyundai Palisade
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee L
  • Mazda CX-90 PHEV
  • Nissan Ariya
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Volkswagen Atlas
  • Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Large SUVs

  • Audi Q7
  • Audi Q8 e-tron
  • Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron
  • Rivian R1S

Midsize luxury SUVs

  • Acura RDX
  • Audi Q4 e-tron
  • Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron
  • Genesis Electrified GV70
  • Genesis GV70 built after November 2023
  • Infiniti QX60
  • Lexus NX
  • Lexus NX Plug-in Hybrid
  • Lexus RX
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC
  • Volvo XC90
  • Volvo XC90 Recharge

Minivans

  • Honda Odyssey
  • Toyota Sienna

Small pickup

  • Hyundai Santa Cruz

Large pickups

  • Rivian R1T crew cab
  • Toyota Tundra crew cab
  • Toyota Tundra extended cab

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Lou Ruggieri
A lifelong lover of cars, Lou contributes to Motor Trend, Hot Cars, Auto & Truck Connection, and the PowerAutoMedia Group.
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