So far, only two other midsize SUVs have claimed top honors.
The 2016 Toyota Highlander has received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Only two other midsize SUVs have managed to earn 2016 Top Safety Pick+ awards so far, including the 2016 Honda Pilot and 2016 Nissan Murano.
Last year, the Highlander also earned the award, but testing criteria for 2016 is more stringent. To earn the Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must score a “Good” rating in all five crash tests. For 2015, earning “Acceptable” in the small overlap front test was enough to score top marks. The 2015 Toyota Highlander scored an “Acceptable” in the small overlap test, while the 2016 model managed to earn the required “Good” rating.
To claim the TSP+ award, Toyota made structural modifications specifically to improve performance, and thus the Highlander’s score, in the test. During testing, the dummy was better controlled, and the head hit the front airbag. Last year, the head slid off the airbag during the test.
The 2016 Toyota Highlander also scored an “Advanced” score in optional front crash prevention technology, helping the midsize SUV earn the award. Vehicles with a “Basic” rating for this system won’t qualify for the top award but can still earn the Top Safety Pick designation.