These Vehicles Just Lost Their Top Safety Pick Rating

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

new iihs crash test rules knock dozens of vehicles off the top safety pick lis

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]

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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.

  • Kwik_Shift A nice stretch of fairly remote road that would be great for test driving a car's potential, rally style, is Flinton Road off of Highway 41 in Ontario. Twists/turns/dips/rises. Just hope a deer doesn't jump out at you. Also Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Great scenery with lots of hills.
  • Saeed Hello, I need a series of other accessories from Lincoln. Do you have front window, front and rear lights, etc. from the 1972 and 1976 models
  • Probert Wow - so many digital renders - Ford, Stellantis. - whose next!!! They're really bringing it on....
  • Zerocred So many great drives:Dalton Hwy from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle.Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham WA to Skagway AK. it was a multi-day ferry ride so I didn’t actually drive it, but I did take my truck.Icefields Parkway from Jasper AB to Lake Louise AB, CA.I-70 and Hwy 50 from Denver to Sacramento.Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierras.
  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.