Only one Detroit vehicle qualifies for coveted top safety rating

Keith Laing
The Detroit News

Washington — Only one Detroit vehicle has earned the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, under new criteria that prioritize the protection of pedestrians in addition to vehicle occupants. 

And even that vehicle — the Cadillac XT6 midsize SUV, which went on sale in June — has an asterisk, because it's only those built after October. 

The Cadillac XT6 is the only one Detroit vehicle to earn the Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducts safety testing and represents the insurance industry.

Twenty-three models qualified for the Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS, which conducts safety testing and represents the insurance industry.

Another 41 achieved the second-tier Top Safety Pick rating, including four from Detroit automakers: the Chevrolet Equinox, the Lincoln Corsair and the Ford Edge and Ford Escape.

No vehicles from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made either list.

To qualify for the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, vehicles must have available front-crash prevention that earns "advanced" or "superior" scores in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash tests. They must earn "good" ratings in six tests designed to measure crash-worthiness. And they must have "good" or "acceptable" headlight ratings on at least some trims.

To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must come standard with headlights that rated "good" or "acceptable."

Joe Young, an IIHS spokesman, said Detroit manufacturers had several near-misses, including the 2020 Ram 1500 crew cab and 2020 Jeep Cherokee, which could not qualify because they are not available with a pedestrian front-crash prevention system. That system automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn't to avoid hitting someone in the street.

Other-near misses included the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt, Jeep Renegade, Ford Ranger and Chrysler Pacifica, which all missed out in part due to only getting "acceptable" marks in the passenger-side small overlap crash test. For the first time, the IIHS required vehicles to be rated "good" in that test, which replicates what occurs when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or object such as a utility pole, to qualify for both awards. Last year, a "good" or "acceptable" score was required for the Top Safety Pick designation, while a "good" score was needed to earn the Top Safety Pick+ award.

Young said the 2020 Lincoln Nautilus and GMC Terrain are only available with "poor"-rated headlights and therefore did not qualify despite meeting all the other criteria.

The IIHS noted that no minivans or pickups qualified for either award. The organization said that could change if automakers make midyear production changes and nominate the vehicle for future testing.

Mazda has the most Top Safety Pick+ awards with five, including the CX-3.

Mazda has the most Top Safety Pick+ awards with five — for the Mazda 3 sedan, Mazda 3 hatchback, Mazda 6, CX-3 and CX-5. The company also earned an additional Top Safety Pick for the CX-9.

Hyundai Motor Group, which also includes the Genesis and Kia brands, had the most winners overall: 14 earned a Top Safety Pick award and three earned Top Safety Pick+.

IIHS President David Harkey said it is important for automakers to make good headlights readily available.

“The headlight ratings that have been part of our awards criteria in recent years have pushed automakers to pay more attention to this essential equipment,” Harkey said in a statement. “However, finding vehicles with the right headlights can be a challenge for consumers. We wanted to reward automakers that have removed this obstacle.”

The group noted that six of the “plus” winners — the Genesis G70, Honda Insight, Hyundai Nexo, Lexus NX, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and Tesla Model 3 — come standard with headlights that are rated "good."

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing

Top Safety Pick+

These models have standard "good" or "acceptable" headlights.

Small cars

Honda Insight

Mazda 3 hatchback

Mazda 3 sedan

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Midsize cars

Mazda 6

Nissan Maxima

Subaru Legacy

Subaru Outback (built after Oct. 2019)

Toyota Camry

Midsize luxury cars

Lexus ES

Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (w/optional front crash prevention)

Tesla Model 3

Large luxury cars

Audi A6

Genesis G70 (built after Dec. 2019)

Genesis G80

Small SUVs

Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-5 (w/optional front crash prevention)

Subaru Forester

Midsize luxury SUVs

Acura RDX

Cadillac XT6 (built after Oct. 2019)

Hyundai Nexo

Lexus NX

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (built after July

2019; w/optional front crash prevention)

Top Safety Pick

"Good" or "acceptable" headlights are available on these models, but not standard. Vehicles qualify for the award only when equipped with those headlights.

Small cars

Honda Civic coupe

Honda Civic hatchback (does not apply to Type R)

Honda Civic sedan

Hyundai Elantra (w/optional front crash prevention)

Hyundai Elantra GT (w/optional front crash prevention)

Hyundai Veloster (w/optional front crash prevention)

Kia Forte (w/optional front crash prevention)

Kia Soul (w/optional front crash prevention)

Subaru Crosstrek (w/optional front crash prevention

Subaru lmpreza sedan (w/optional front crash prevention

Subaru lmpreza wagon (w/optional front crash prevention

Subaru WRX (w/optional front crash prevention

Toyota Corolla hatchback

Toyota Corolla sedan

Midsize sedans

Honda Accord

Hyundai Sonata

Nissan Altima (w/optional front crash prevention)

Midsize luxury cars

BMW 3 series

Volvo S60

Large car

Kia Stinger (w/optional front crash prevention)

Large luxury car

Audi A7

Small SUVs

Chevrolet Equinox

Ford Escape

Honda CR-V

Hyundai Kona (w/optional front crash prevention)

Hyundai Tucson (w/optional front crash prevention)

Kia Sportage

Lexus UX

Lincoln Corsair

Toyota RAV4

Volvo XC40

Midsize SUVs

Ford Edge

Hyundai Palisade

Hyundai Santa Fe

Kia Sorento (w/optional front crash prevention)

Kia Telluride

Mazda CX-9 (w/optional front crash prevention)

Subaru Ascent

Volkswagen Tiguan

Midsize luxury SUV

Lexus RX

Large SUV

Audi Q8