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Safest Vehicles on the Road: The IIHS Gives 23 Models Top Safety Pick+ Ratings for 2020

Subaru Crosstrek / Mazda CX-5
Photo: D.Boshouwers
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Derek Boshouwers
64 models earn at least a Top Safety Pick rating

Meet the safest vehicles on the road in 2020, at least according to the pre-eminent crash testing organization in the United States.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just announced its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ ratings for 2020, with 23 models earning the latter, the highest possible designation from the American organization.

Mazda, Subaru lead the way
Leading the way with five models gaining the IIHS’s ultimate stamp of safety approval is Mazda; its Mazda3 sedan, Mazda3 hatchback, Mazda 6 cars and its CX-3 and CX-5 (with the front crash prevention) SUVs all were given the best possible Top Safety Pick+ designation. It big CX-9 SUV earned a Top Safety Pick rating.

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Mazda 6
Mazda 6
Photo: D.Boshouwers

Subaru isn’t far behind, with its Crosstrek Hybrid, Legacy, Outback (if built after October 2019) and Forester all passing the institute’s testing with flying colours. The Subaru Ascent, Crosstrek, Impreza wagon and sedan and WRX all merited a Top Safety Pick rating.

If you count automotive groups as a whole, the Hyundai Motor Group has much to be happy about as well. Adding up the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands’ vehicles that made the lists brings a total of 17 models, with three of them earning the Top Safety Pick+ rating: the Hyundai Nexo, and the Genesis G70 and G80 sedans.

If you’re wondering about Toyota/Lexus, the Japanese automaker sees three of its models earn the Top Safety Pick+ rating: the Toyota Camry, the Lexus NX and the Lexus ES (which happens to have just been crowned the most dependable car on the road today by J.D. Power). The Toyota Corolla sedan and hatchback and RAV4, as well as the Lexus UX and RX SUVs earned the next-best Top Safety Pick rating.

Lexus ES
Lexus ES
Photo: Lexus

While it’s worth noting that the IIHS continues to carry out tests throughout the year and can and does add new models to the ranks of Top Safety Picks, for now at least, the honour roll for 2020 contains exactly zero pickup trucks, or minivans for that matter.

As for particular brands, you won’t find any Fiat-Chrysler or Mitsubishi models on the list published today. As well, no Ford/Lincoln, Volvo or BMW models managed to hoist themselves to the top-rung Top Safety Pick+ category.

Pedestrians are people too… and so are passengers
The IIHS introduced pedestrian crash prevention ratings in February of last year, and this year they are counted for the first time in calculations to determine Safety Picks.

“Rewarding technology that protects people outside the vehicle is new territory for the Top Safety Pick awards, but we believe vehicle manufacturers have an important role to play in protecting vulnerable road users.”

- IIHS President David Harkey

Genesis G70
Genesis G70
Photo: D.Boshouwers

2020 also marks a strengthening of the criteria in passenger-side small overlap front collision tests, the most recent type of testing introduced by the IIHS. Vehicles must now earn a score of Good to get a Safety Pick rating (instead of the Acceptable rating previously).

Speaking of criteria…
To qualify for a 2020 Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, vehicles must have good ratings in each of the Institute’s six crashworthiness evaluations. They must also have good or acceptable headlights and available front crash prevention that earns advanced or superior ratings in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. The “plus” is awarded to models that come exclusively with good or acceptable headlights.


Derek Boshouwers
Derek Boshouwers
Automotive expert
  • Over 5 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 50 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 30 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists