Last week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its “Top Safety Pick Plus” and “Top Safety Pick” cars for 2016 models. The “plus” category requires vehicles to get a top score in the five crash tests. The cars also need to have some sort of advanced front crash prevention system and automatic emergency breaking. Most luxury cars have automatic breaking as a standard feature, whereas other newer models typically offer it as an add-on option. In the past, the higher rating could be earned even with a lower score on one of the front crash tests, called the small overlap. It is one of the more difficult tests and simulates a crash when the front corner of a car hits a non-moving object. This year, the institute made requirements stricter in order to reward some of the advances certain models and manufacturers have made and to encourage others to do so as well.
Forty-eight cars earned the “Top Safety Pick Plus” rating for 2016. This was a 15 car increase since 2015. Japanese brands dominated this category this year with Toyota, Honda, and Subaru having the most cars rated in “plus.” Volkswagen, Audi, Volvo, Hyundai, and Mazda all had winners as well. The only domestic car that received the rating was the Chrysler 200. Thirteen cars received the “Top Safety Pick,” with five from General Motors Co. It will be interesting to see if the addition of automatic breaking will increase on non-luxury cars over the next few years and what that would mean for future accident trends.