Safer than Bubble Wrapping Your Car
Every year the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety evaluates the safety of the latest and greatest vehicles available in the United States and awards the best performing vehicles their Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ rating. According to the IIHS, these are the safest new cars you can get today.
There were 48 vehicles awarded a TSP+ rating for 2016. Here we divide up the vehicles by popular categories and bring you a few of our favorites.
Small Sedans #3
Despite the (deserved) negative press surrounding Volkswagen lately, the 2016 Golf is a genuinely safe car for the occupants. Depending on how practical you want your Golf, you can rest assured that everything from the base four-door hatchback to the SportWagen to the GTI met the most stringent criteria the IIHS put in front of it.
Small Sedan #2
A perennial auto-journalist favorite is the Mazda3, equally safe in practical hatchback or traditional sedan form. The Mazda3 sets the bar for the economy-minded compact segment with its twisty-back-road-handling performance.
Small Sedans #1
Want your safe but small sedan to have more than a hint of sportiness? The 2016 Subaru WRX is an excellent way to go. Not only does the all-wheel drive system impart superior traction in all weather conditions (don’t forget snow tires), the Subaru EyeSight safety suite is one of the most polished systems we’ve gotten to use.
If the WRX and its boy-racer reputation, or perhaps insurance rate, are a little off-putting, consider the base Impreza sedan, which also earned the IIHS TSP+ award.
Small Sedans Bonus
What about really small sedans? The new 2016 Scion iA, which is more of a Mazda2 with some styling tweaks, is the sole minicar to earn the IIHS TSP+ rating. Not only that, the front crash prevention system is standard, making the little Scion the only non-luxury brand to do so.
Midsize Sedans #4
The 2016 Lexus ES may be the best deal in the automaker’s portfolio: 40 inches of rear legroom, an optional hybrid powertrain (40 mpg (5.9 L/100km) in the city, per the EPA), and a generous features list. We’re talking LS-levels of comfort for rear seat passengers, but starting nearly $30,000 USD cheaper. With a TSP+ rating to boot, what’s not to love?
If you don’t care about the badge on the hood then consider the Toyota Avalon, which shares a platform with the Lexus ES, thus sharing its roomy accommodations (39.2 inches (1 m) of rear legroom) at an even lower base price.
Midsize Sedans #3
There’s a reason the Toyota Camry is typically in the top five best-selling vehicles list month after month: It does what it says it will. Reliability, quality, and safety are the pillars Toyota has built their reputation on, and the Camry is the apotheosis of these virtues. If you’re looking for a little more excitement you would be better served by the others in the segment, though if you merely need transportation, the Camry’s got your back.
Midsize Sedans #2
The 2016 Honda Accord is a strong seller with a reputation for reliability on par with the Camry, but with a look we prefer over the also-popular Toyota. We like the way the V-6 powered Accord goes about its business. Too bad you can’t pair the sedan with the V-6 and a manual. Though, the coupe with the “enthusiast” combination also earned the IIHS TSP+ rating. There’s just something magical about a coupe with mainstream roots that can knock off a 5.4 second 0-60 mph sprint.
Midsize Sedans #1
If you’re looking for excellent safety, supremely comfortable seats, and handsome European styling, the Volvo S60 (sedan) and V60 (wagon) won’t lead you astray. Volvo, who has often pioneered the sorts of safety technology that end up setting the industry standards, is still at the leading edge. Whether you prefer the traditional shape of the S60 or the longer roofline of the V60, you’ll be treated to some of the most comfortable seats in the automotive business.
Large Sedans #4
Volvo’s S80 isn’t nearly as big as the truly “large” sedans from the other European automakers (S-Class, for example) but it’s one of the biggest sedans the IIHS tests. The big Volvo is based on one of the automaker’s older platforms and feels more than a little dated compared with some of the newer competition. Despite an older infotainment system, the S80 has superb seats (as we’ve come to expect) and up-to-date safety technology, as evidenced by the TSP+ rating.
Large Sedans #3
With the spinning off of the Genesis name into its own brand, the Hyundai Genesis sure is a great starting point: excellent value, luxury, and an impressive suite of active safety technology. For a few years now Hyundai has been offering an excellent lineup for those who could care less about brand names and badges. With a pair of capable engines (V-6 and V-8) and rear-wheel drive, the Genesis sedan is a breath of fresh air in a segment that seemed content to increase in price at an exponential pace.
Large Sedans #2
Though I’ve criticized the stratospheric prices of the “establishment,” step into the cabin of a 2016 Audi A6 and you’ll be able to see and touch the reason it commands such a price. Fine woods, far better than the veneers of the last decade, now wrap around the cabin of the A6, which sets the bar for the segment. Audi‘s MMI infotainment system is easy to use, and the build quality is impeccable. The exterior, however, is nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the Audi lineup at a distance, which could be seen as a positive unless your $60,000 USD A6 is mistaken for an A4.
Large Sedans #1
The year 2017 is set to bring a whole raft of changes to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but that doesn’t mean the “old” E-Class is suddenly a terrible car. Quite the contrary. The E-Class, available with a head-spinning variety of engines and body styles, earns the TSP+ rating in four-door form. Four different engines take the E-Class from mild to wild: an efficient diesel, a modest V-6, a lively twin-turbo V-6, and a raucous twin-turbo V-8. Your choice.
Two Row Crossovers #5
One of our favorite two-row crossovers is the surprisingly capable Mazda CX-5. Even though the Mazda‘s more powerful engine churns out just 184 hp, a willing six-speed automatic helps keep the CX-5 on boil and makes it a staff favorite support vehicle for back road jaunts.
Two Row Crossovers #4
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of Hyundai products to come through our doors lately, and the Tucson is no exception. The styling rides the line between utilitarian and sporty, and we like it. Spring for the turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4, and you’ll have plenty of power. When Hyundai dug into the technology bin they made sure to use both hands for the two-row, and it shows. All the expected safety bells and whistles are there, as are proper infotainment systems. With a base starting price in the $20,000 USD range that’s not bad at all.
Two Row Crossovers #3
Toyota took their RAV4 and gave it the updates people have been clamoring for: a more premium-feeling interior and a hybrid system. Whether you opt for the standard gas-burning I-4 or the more efficient Hybrid model, the RAV4 is a versatile, easy-to-enjoy crossover that has a much deserved spot on the IIHS TSP+ podium.
Two Row Crossovers #2
When we think safety Volvo comes to mind, and in the two-row segment the XC60 raises the styling bar. Alongside the aforementioned Hyundai Tucson, the 2016 Volvo XC60 is one of the finest looking two-row crossovers available that doesn’t skimp on the safety equipment. Seats are the same excellent thrones we’ve come to expect of Volvo, though the center stack feels more than a little dated. We can’t wait until the team that gave us the XC90 get ahold of the rest of the Volvo lineup.
Two Row Crossovers #1
The 2015 Motor Trend SUV of the Year, the Honda CR-V, didn’t get the award by sitting on its laurels. An impressive cargo area (thanks, Magic fancysecond-rowSeat!) is paired with surprisingly fun handling and a nicely finished interior. We stand by what we said last year when it won the calipers: “A careful rework of a best-seller, executed with typical Honda thoughtfulness.”
Three Row Crossovers #2
When Motor Trend’s Scott Evans called the 2016 Honda Pilot a “walk-off home run” it wasn’t just hollow rhetoric. This thing means business. The Pilot shares a chassis with the excellent Acura MDX, and both earn the IIHS TSP+ rating. With an excellent V-6, outstanding AWD, and a great chassis you might think the Pilot drops the ball on the interior. Hardly. The three-row crossover is laid out impressively (Honda does have one of the best-selling minivans) and doesn’t lack much. If you’d like more luxury, step up the MDX.
Three Row Crossovers #1
The 2016 Volvo XC90 is the 2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year, and it’s paving the way for the next generation of the automaker’s offerings. We said, “More so than any other competitor the XC90 will alter the SUV landscape. It’s a real game-changer.” The interior is a revelation, the infotainment system responds like a modern tablet (about time), and the entire design, from the interior to the exterior, strikes an excellent balance between form and function. I’m gushing, but it really is that good. The key fob is even wrapped in leather that matches the seats. We can’t wait for the S90.