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Subaru: IIHS Vehicle Research Center Tour

The header says it all: safety does matter, especially when we’re talking about new vehicles. Which is why Subaru recently arranged for several of us journalists to visit the IIHS facility in Ruckersville, Virginia. After all, when you’ve received Top Safety Picks (TSPs) on not just some but all of your current lineup, you’re going to want to promote this achievement. In fact, Subaru is the only manufacturer to be awarded IIHS TSPs for all its models over the past six consecutive years (2010-2015).

Sounds pretty impressive, eh? However, to truly understand the importance of these awards, we need to delve a little deeper into the IIHS and what it takes to earn a top rating. 

The IIHS, in operation for 20 years now, is funded by the North American insurance industry and operates totally independent from any vehicle manufacturer. In fact, in order to ensure this, the IIHS purchases its entire lineup of test vehicles directly from dealership lots, just like you or I would. It’s this, plus its unique testing procedures that has solidified the reputation of the IIHS and made its ratings so valuable to both consumers and manufacturers alike. In fact, many improvements we’ve seen in vehicle safety over the years can be directly linked to IIHS results, so the manufacturers do pay close attention to these scores.  

To determine crashworthiness, the IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor, based on the product’s performance over the course of five test procedures. To qualify for a prestigious IIHS Top Safety Pick rating, the vehicle needs to earn a rating of good in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints tests, plus a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap front test. 

With the growing presence of frontal crash prevention systems on new vehicles today, the IIHS has now introduced something called TSP+ (plus). The 2015 TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation is awarded to vehicles which not only meet current TSP standards, but are also equipped with a frontal crash prevention system earning an advanced or superior rating. It’s a tough challenge, so let’s take a look at how the 2015 Subaru lineup fared this year…

2015 WRX & WRX STI: IIHS Top Safety Pick

2015 BRZ: IIHS Top Safety Pick (3rd year in a row)

2015 XV Crosstrek: IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (with optional EyeSight, 3rd year in a row IIHS TSP winner). IIHS Superior Front Crash Prevention (6 out of 6 rating for EyeSight equipped vehicles)

2015 Impreza: IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (with optional EyeSight, 8th year in a row IIHS TSP winner). IIHS Superior Front Crash Prevention (6 out of 6 rating for EyeSight equipped vehicles)

2015 Forester: IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (with optional EyeSight, 9th year in a row IIHS TSP winner). IIHS Superior Front Crash Prevention (6 out of 6 rating for EyeSight equipped vehicles)

2015 Outback: IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (with optional EyeSight, 7th year in a row IIHS TSP winner). IIHS Superior Front Crash Prevention (6 out of 6 rating for EyeSight equipped vehicles)

2015 Legacy: IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (with optional EyeSight, 10th year in a row IIHS TSP winner). IIHS Superior Front Crash Prevention (6 out of 6 rating for EyeSight equipped vehicles)

Again, I have to say impressive; but let’s take a closer look at those numbers. It’s not the actual winning which impressed me, but the number of years in which Subaru has been performing at this level (take the Legacy, which has earned an IIHS TSP rating for 10 years now). This speaks volumes for the company’s overall approach to product safety, and perhaps accounts for its steady increase in sales (up over 13% year-to-date).

Of course, Subaru was one of the forerunners in vehicle crash-testing. In fact, the company conducted its first crash-tests way back in 1965. It’s also worth noting that vehicle safety often equates to product longevity, which is why the company is equally proud of a recent survey revealing that 97% of the vehicles it sold over the past 10 years are still on the road. Pretty remarkable, especially when you consider how many vehicles were purchased and destroyed by the IIHS during that period. 

So, well done Subaru. I know the IIHS has taken a large number of your babies and attempted to wipe them from the face of mother earth but it was all for a good cause, and we consumers appreciate Subaru’s dedication to vehicle safety. After all, safety matters!