The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is recognizing 65 models with the 2022 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, as improved headlight offerings boost more vehicles into the top tier.
Another 36 models earn the lower-tier TOP SAFETY PICK award for a total of 101 winners overall. This time last year, there were 90 winners, including 49 earning TOP SAFETY PICK+.
“We’re excited to see more vehicles on this list in 2022,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “Our awards make it easy for car buyers to find models that will protect them in a crash and increase the odds they’ll never be in one. By shooting for TOP SAFETY PICK+, automakers are showing that they’re committed to the same goal.”
Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands, has the most 2022 awards overall and the most awards in each category — 11 TOP SAFETY PICK+ and 10 TOP SAFETY PICK awards for a total of 21. Volkswagen Group, which includes the Volkswagen and Audi brands, is not far behind with eight TOP SAFETY PICK+ and three TOP SAFETY PICK awards. Volvo earns 10 TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards.
Four minivans qualify for awards this year, compared with only two in February last year. This year’s winners include the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Carnival. Four pickup trucks — the Ram 1500 crew cab, Ford F-150 extended cab and crew cab and the Hyundai Santa Cruz — also made the list. Only the Ram 1500 crew cab qualified for an award at the time of the initial 2021 TOP SAFETY PICK announcement.
All the 2022 award winners earn good ratings in six IIHS crashworthiness tests, including the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, original side, roof strength and head restraint tests. They are also available with front crash prevention systems that earn advanced or superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations, as well as at least one headlight system that earns a good or acceptable rating.
For the 65 TOP SAFETY PICK+ recipients, good or acceptable headlights are standard across all trims. Although standard acceptable headlights can qualify for the higher award, a total of 31 models come exclusively with good-rated headlights.
Along with improving their headlight offerings this year, manufacturers made vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention standard on more models. Front crash prevention that earns an advanced or superior rating in both evaluations is standard on all but two TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners and 30 out of 36 TOP SAFETY PICK winners.
While front crash prevention does not have to be standard to qualify for either award, the automakers have pledged to make vehicle-to-vehicle automatic emergency braking standard on nearly all the light-duty vehicles they produce beginning this September.
The award criteria remain unchanged from last year, but, beginning in 2023, IIHS will add two new evaluations to the award requirements.
The updated side test the Institute introduced in 2021 — which is conducted at a higher speed and with a heavier movable barrier — will replace the original side test in the criteria. A good or acceptable rating will be required for TOP SAFETY PICK, while a good rating will be necessary to earn the “plus.”
A nighttime pedestrian crash prevention test will also be added. For 2023, this new test will not be part of the criteria for TOP SAFETY PICK, but vehicles will need to earn an advanced or superior rating to qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+.
Also beginning in 2023, only vehicles that come with standard good or acceptable headlights across all trims and packages will be eligible for either award.
“Manufacturers deserve congratulations for the steady improvements they’ve made since we last updated our award requirements, but with U.S. traffic fatalities expected to exceed 40,000 people in 2021, it’s no time for anybody to rest on their laurels,” says Harkey. “A key reason vehicles have continued to get safer over the more than 25 years since the Institute began our ratings program is that we have never shied away from raising the bar. The high number of TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners shows that it’s time to push for additional changes.”