The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was founded in 1959 to support highway safety, but its mission today is a nonprofit research organization. Each year, it puts cars, trucks, and SUVs through a series of tests and hands out safety ratings and awards to vehicles based on their crash-worthiness and crash avoidance mitigation.
The IIHS classifies the vehicle as a top safety pick when it earns good ratings in the roof strength test, the head restraint test, and the moderate overlap front test. It also has to earn at least an acceptable rating in the small overlap front test. For a top safety pick+ rating, the vehicle must have optional front crash prevention technology.
Safety Rating Factors
The small overlap front test is a 40 mph crash where about one-quarter of the width of the vehicle striking a rigid barrier. In the moderate overlap test, about 40 percent of the width of the vehicle strikes a rigid barrier. These tests can be compared against similarly-weighted vehicles.
In the roof strength test, a metal plate is pressed against the top of the vehicle at a steady rate. The head restraint test is based on a sled test. These ratings, along with front crash prevention can be compared by vehicle categories.
The IIHS also gives each vehicle a child seat anchor rating, which evaluates the hardware for installing child restraints.
In reviewing the findings for safest 2016 SUVs, there were some ratings that stood out. No midsize luxury SUVs tested earned higher than a “marginal” rating. In the midsize SUV category, many earned only an “acceptable” rating.
Safest Small SUVs
The 2015 Small SUVs that earned the Top Safety Pick+ were:
– 2016 Mazda CX-5 4-door SUV
2016 models that have not yet been tested but were top picks in the preceding model year were:
– 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander
– 2015 Honda CR-V
– 2015 Subaru Forester
Safest Midsize SUVs
2016 midsize SUV models that have not yet been tested but were top picks in the preceding model year were:
– 2015 Nissan Murano
– 2015 Toyota Highlander
Safest 2016 Luxury SUVs
– 2016 Acura MDX
2016 luxury SUV models that have not yet been tested but were top picks in the preceding model year were:
– 2015 Audi Q5
– 2015 Lexus NX
– 2015 Mercedes M class
– 2015 Volvo XC60
There are still many more SUVs that earned the 2015 Top Safety Rating, without the additional front crash prevention technology, the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Buick Encore in the small SUV classification. In midsize SUVs, the Kia Sorrento, Nissan Pathfinder, and Chevrolet Equinox all meet top safety ratings. The Infiniti QX60 was a luxury SUV that earned top ratings.
The IIHS might have been a private company when it began, but it adapted into a nonprofit, scientific research organization that is dedicated to reducing highway accidents. One of the ways it does this is to test vehicles for their safety on the road. It’s a valuable resource for safety and crash information when you’re buying a new SUV. Stay tuned as we update the list of 2016 safest SUVs as additional model test results are released.