These Vehicles Just Lost Their Top Safety Pick Rating

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has updated its crash testing processes and hardware in recent years to account for new safety technologies, as well as the fact that people can walk in and buy new EVs that can weigh as much as two or three comparable gas vehicles combined. The most significant update for 2023 relates to the IIHS’ side crash test, but there are several other changes that have drastically reduced the number of vehicles that qualify for a Top Safety Pick award. 

Side crash testing now involves 82 percent more energy, and vehicles have to earn an “Acceptable” or “Good” rating to earn a Top Safety Pick. Getting the Plus designation requires “Good” scores. The IIHS also updated requirements for crash prevention systems and headlights. 

The result of these changes is that far fewer vehicles qualify for either award. There were 101 winners in 2022, with 65 of them grabbing a Top Safety Pick +. This year, the IIHS only awarded 48 vehicles with a Top Safety Pick award, and only 28 got the Plus. The vehicles that were dropped aren’t automatically less safe, but it is surprising to see such a drastic reduction in the number of vehicles that qualified. 

Some of the cars that earned an award in 2022 but fell off for 2023 include:

·      Hyundai Elantra

·      Subaru Crosstrek

·      Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R

·      Nissan Maxima

·      Kia K5

·      Lexus IS

·      Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Though it just updated its testing methodology, the IIHS said more changes are coming in 2024. Where the new side crash test currently requires an “Acceptable” or “Good” score to earn a Top Safety Pick, both awards will require a “Good” score starting next year. The recently-updated moderate overlap front test will require a “Good” or “Acceptable” rating for a Top Safety Pick +. 

[Image: IIHS screenshot via YouTube]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

More by Chris Teague

Join the conversation
4 of 21 comments
  • Cprescott Cprescott on Mar 06, 2023

    IHS is a smarmy organization that arbitrarily changes things which make vehicles look bad when nothing has changed. Perhaps these clowns should only test newly changed vehicles instead of devaluing already acceptable product iterations with their arbitrary and capricious standards.

    • See 1 previous
    • CoastieLenn CoastieLenn on Mar 06, 2023

      I understand some of the changes. Curb weights of vehicles are seemingly increasing every year with the invocation of new drivetrain technology. It only makes sense to ensure that the criteria that is being used to evaluate new vehicles is relative and updated with new vehicle properties. There'd be no sense in testing new vehicles against standards from 30 years ago where half of the vehicles on the road weighed under 3000lbs on average.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Mar 06, 2023

    The lead photo is basically clickbait - seeing that, I was ready to bemoan Volvo's decline in safety (thinking they had fallen off), especially since they made their reputation on safety. But no, no Volvos on the naughty list.

  • 1995 SC On the plus side, I found a sedan I want to buy
  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.