Previously given the second-best Top Safety Pick rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Mazda’s CX-9 SUV has just seen its rating changed to the best possible Top Safety Pick+.
As we’ve seen with a number of models recently, the difference between the two ratings came down, in the case of Mazda’s largest SUV model, to the headlights. More specifically, the base-model headlights were good enough to earn the model a Top Safety Pick rating but no better. Now the CX-9 is available with upgraded headlights as an option, and these upped the model’s overall test score sufficiently to take it to the top category.
Of course, those optional headlights are only available with the range-topping Signature and GT (Grand Touring) trims of the CX-9, and only on vehicles built since June 2019. Prior to that, the headlights on the model scored only between “Poor” and “Acceptable” in the IIHS’ testing. The new optional lights earned a rating of “Good”.
The headlight test has caused a number of models to miss out on attaining a higher rung on the IIHS’s rating ladder, and we imagine that manufacturers will be adjusting their product offering to allow their models to show their best possible face when in the care of the Institute’s testers.
“Headlights are evaluated for both visibility and glare because glare can reduce visibility for other road users.”
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Just today, the IIHS announced that the new Volkswagen Arteon sedan missed out on earning a Top Safety Pick designation altogether due to its poorly performing headlights. Otherwise the model earned top ratings for crashworthiness and front crash prevention.
Take note that the Mazda CX-9 did otherwise earn top marks in collision testing. Now, with its improved overall Top Safety Pick+ rating tucked under its arm, the model joins the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Subaru Ascent as the only three-row SUVs to get that designation in 2019.