The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has become the standard for determining which passenger vehicles are safe enough to protect you and your family. For the longest time, their “Top Safety Pick” rating was what separated the “men from the boys” in terms of real automotive safety. According to their site, “to earn Top Safety Pick, vehicles must receive good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear tests, regardless of their rating in the small overlap front test.” (Note that a Good rating is the highest offered in the test.) Of the new 2012-13 models sold by Leikin Motor Companies, the following earned the award:
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan
- Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
- Mercedes-Benz M-Class
- Volvo C30
- Volvo S60
- Volvo S80*
- Volvo XC60
- Volvo XC90
The IIHS has released a new test to determine which passenger vehicles are even more safe. The new award is called Top Safety Pick+ and is awarded thus: “To earn Top Safety Pick+ vehicles must receive good ratings in at least 4 of 5 tests and no less than acceptable in the fifth test.” Apparently, this test has only been awarded to a few vehicle thus far. Of the 2013 models we sell, the Volvo S60 and XC60 were awarded the Top Safety Pick+. This is a great honor, but what did you expect from the company that produced City Safety, SIPS, WHIPS, and a host of other incredible safety inventions?
I have a few thoughts about this process. To begin with, I am glad that car companies are making safer cars. I occasionally wondered what would happen if a crash occurred in my 1990 Jaguar Sovereign. It is a solid vehicle with many nice features, but it was built before airbags were standard. There is no doubt that some economy vehicles have more safety equipment than this luxury cruiser from years ago. That brings me to my second point. With the increase in safety features and body design, does it really matter if your car has the IIHS rating? I would answer that question with a yes. New tests are revealing flaws in the construction of cars that previously were considered a Top Safety Pick. The Small Overlap Frontal Crash Test revealed that certain cars didn’t handle clipping a wall with the driver’s side headlight. While the S60 and XC60 both did well, other cars will need to make adjustments for this.
The last thought I have is that there is still a difference between a Volvo S60 and a Honda Accord. While both have received the Top Safety Pick+ for 2013, which would you rather be driving when caught between two semis? Which one will automatically brake in city traffic when you’re not paying attention? When you open and close the doors, does the sound give you a sense of security? And while they may not get the highest fuel economy, you feel safe and will be safe in a Volvo in the case of an accident. So, listen to the IIHS but also listen to the facts as you consider what car would be best for your situation.
*I would assume that the Volvo XC70 has earned this award as well since it is the wagon version of the S80 and is not listed on the IIHS site.