Posted on March 4, 2016 by Paul Sisolak
Finding the perfect car requires the consideration of many elements, and while make, model and other features certainly figure into the equation, safety is arguably chief among those. The overall safety of a car brand depends on a number of variables, but the percentage of model lineups winning Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) can point to the brand‘s wider concern for safety.
AxleGeeks compiled a list of the brands with the highest percentage of IIHS award-winning 2015-2016 models, and ranked them from least to greatest based on the proportion receiving Top Safety Pick honors. To earn a Top Safety Pick award, a model must receive ‘good’ ratings in five crashworthiness tests (small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints) as well as a basic rating for front crash prevention. Meanwhile, Top Safety Pick+ award-winning cars qualify only if they reach those standards and earn an advanced or superior designation for front crash prevention.
Note: All ties were broken based on the percentage of models winning Top Safety Pick+ awards.
A quarter of model lineups manufactured by Buick, one of GM’s two luxury-level nameplates (the other being Cadillac), earned IIHS Top Safety Pick awards, and though the quality of Buick’s safety features has dipped in the eyes of the IIHS over the last few years, the automaker still rises above many of its competitors.
Nearly 26 percent of Nissan’s models earned either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, a welcomed recognition for the top Japanese automaker — in the last two years, Nissan received more IIHS awards than ever, continuing a steady climb that began in 2008, despite an uncharacteristic dip in 2014.
Nearly 29 percent of Chrysler’s models received Top Safety Pick+ awards. While respectable, it unfortunately pales in comparison to Chrysler’s heyday with the IIHS — 2012-2013 — when 100 percent of its models received one of the two Top Pick Safety awards.
Though Hyundai’s models didn’t perform as well as those of its competitor Kia, 32.1 percent still received either a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ award (10.7 percent and 21.4 percent respectively).
Lexus, Toyota’s luxury line, also earned modest recognition from the IIHS: Only 36.6 percent of Lexus models earned a Top Safety Pick+ award, well under half the proportion of Acura, the top-ranking luxury brand.
Though Scion will be discontinued after 2016 and its models rebranded as Toyota vehicles, the marque stands out for its IIHS awards: Nearly 38 percent received either a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ award (25 percent and 12.5 percent respectively).
Over 38 percent of models produced by popular German automaker Volkswagen earned either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award (22.2 percent and 22.2 percent respectively).
The Korean automaker has made leaps and bounds by improving quality, build, design and performance in recent years, giving its Japanese competitors a run for their money. Outperforming Hyundai, 40.9 percent of Kia’s models earned a Top Safety Pick award.
A little more than 44 percent of Mitsubishi’s model lineups received Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ awards (22.2 percent and 22.2 percent respectively). The triple diamond of Japanese automakers, Mitsubishi’s proportion of IIHS award-winning vehicles runs in line with other Japanese luxury and non-luxury brands.
Though only 45 percent of Toyota’s model lineups received a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, a percentage slightly below that of other Japanese non-luxury brands, the venerable economy car brand stays on par with other Japanese carmakers.
Known for economical, solid and sporty cars that impress inside and out, Mazda holds its own in IIHS safety awards, falling below Subaru and Honda, but outranking rivals Toyota and Mitsubishi: Nearly 54 percent of its models earned a Top Safety Pick+ award.
The Honda-derived luxury brand infuses premium styling with efficient and exhilarating performance, and it gets high marks for safety as well. Acura falls just below Volvo on our list, with 63.6 percent of its models earning a Top Safety Pick+ award.
Though it ranks behind Honda in its overall proportion, Swedish automaker Volvo scores well with the IIHS, as 64.3 percent of its models received Top Safety Pick+ awards.
One of the most popular Japanese economy brands and known for reliable, efficient cars, Honda excels in safety as well: 64.7 percent of their models earned either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award (35.3 percent and 29.4 respectively).
By far the brand with the greatest proportion of IIHS safety honors, Subaru boasts an almost entirely award-winning lineup. Nearly 93 percent of their vehicles received a safety award from IIHS, with 14.3 percent receiving a Top Safety Pick and 78.6 percent receiving a Top Safety Pick+.