- Helping you drive happy

IIHS Announces its Top Safety Pick Award Winners for 2021

2021 Mazda CX-5
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Get the best interest rate
Derek Boshouwers
49 models earn the Top Safety Pick+ award, and 9 of them carry the Volvo name

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has posted its official list of safety award winners for 2021, handing out 49 of the best-possible Top Safety Pick+ award. Another 41 vehicles earned the next best thing, the Top Safety Pick award. Some quick math shows there are 90 models in all recognized this time around, which is a healthy increase from 2020 when there were 60 chosen ones. Here’s how IIHS president David Harkey explains the jump:

“With these awards, we want to make it easy for consumers to find vehicles that provide good protection in crashes, sufficient lighting and effective front crash protection. Manufacturers have stepped up to meet the challenge, and the list of great options has grown to an impressive size this year.”

- IIHS president David Harkey

Discover Shopicar! All new makes and models and all current promotions.

2021 Acura TLX
2021 Acura TLX
Photo: Acura

Looked at as a whole, the top performer among automakers in 2021 is the Hyundai Group (which includes the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands), with 17 models in all – five Top Safety Pick+ winners, and 12 earning the Top Safety Pick designation. The brand with the most top awards is Volvo, with nine.

Beyond that, the Toyota/Lexus duo did well with 14 winners overall including six Plus choices; Subaru snatched nine awards; Honda/Acura took home eight awards in all, as did Audi; Mazda took seven all by its lonesome; and four Nissan models were recognized.

Somewhat less glorious is the performance of American automakers, notably General Motors (one Top Safety Pick+ and one Top Safety Pick award) and Stellantis, which encompasses Fiat-Chrysler (one single Top Safety Pick). Ford looks good in comparison with four award winners in all, counting the Lincoln brand.

2021 Toyota Highlander
2021 Toyota Highlander
Photo: Toyota

To earn the Top Safety Pick designation, vehicles must get Good ratings or better in all six IIHS crashworthiness tests (driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints). They must also feature (at least as options) front crash prevention systems that earns a Superior or Advanced rating in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. And, they must be available with Good or Acceptable headlights.

The coveted Plus designation is given to models that have good or acceptable headlights across all trim levels and packages.

In total, the IIHS carries out test in nine different categories: Moderate overlap front, Side, Head restraints and seats, Roof, Small overlap front: driver’s side, Front crash prevention: vehicle-to-vehicle, Headlights, Small overlap front: passenger-side and Front crash prevention: vehicle-to-pedestrian.

2021 Volvo XC90
2021 Volvo XC90
Photo: Volvo

Keep in mind that the agency continues to carry out testing throughout the year, and can both add and remove models from its honour roll.

See all the winners of the Top Safety Pick+ and Tops Safety Pick awards for 2021, by category, on the next page.


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