Headlight ratings are now incorporated into the agency's top award
Thirty-eight vehicles have earned the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway despite stricter criteria. Toyota leads the industry with nine wins, followed by Honda at five wins.
IIHS launched new headlight ratings earlier this year, but these scores didn’t affect whether or not a vehicle could receive a TSP+ award. For the 2017 model year, however, vehicles must receive a “Good” or “Acceptable” headlight rating to be eligible for the agency’s top award.
Headlight evaluations have proven challenging for many automakers. When IIHS first launched the test on select cars earlier this year, the Prius v was the only model to earn a “Good” score. Eleven cars were rated “Acceptable,” nine scored “Marginal,” and 10 were rated as “Poor” in this first round. In a recent test of truck headlights, most earned a “Poor” rating.
Among all of the 2017 models tested so far, only seven have managed to obtain the highest possible score in the headlight evaluation. These models include the Chevrolet Volt, Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Santa Fe, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Prius v, and the Volvo XC60.
Incidentally, these seven models also managed to meet all the other requirements necessary to earn the TSP+ award. Not only do vehicles need to pass the headlight test, but they must also score “Good” ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overall front, side crash, roof strength, and head restraint tests. Like last year, they also must nab an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating for front crash prevention, and as part of that criteria, offer autobrake technology.
Here is a list of vehicles that have secured the 2017 TSP+ award so far:
Midsize SUVs: Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe (built after March 2016)
Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica (built after August 2016)
Large Pickup: Honda Ridgeline
A few models missed qualifying for the top award by a hair, including the Hyundai Tucson. The Tucson’s acceptable-rated headlights aren’t available on the same model as the Tucson with a TSP+-qualifying rating for autobrake technology. The features must be packaged together on the same model. Headlight ratings can vary widely on the same vehicle; an automaker may offer LED lights with high beam assist as well as halogen lights, and both versions could receive different ratings, for instance. The TSP+ list includes the best result earned by each vehicle.
“The field of contenders is smaller this year because so few vehicles have headlights that do their job well, but it’s not as small as we expected when we decided to raise the bar for the awards,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund in a statement. “Manufacturers are focusing on improving this basic safety equipment, and we’re confident that the winners’ list will grow as the year progresses.”
Cars that don’t pass the bar in the headlight evaluation are still eligible for the Top Safety Pick award without the “+” designation. A total of 44 vehicles have earned this lesser award for the 2017 model year.