These four models met the IIHS' latest requirement, scoring the agency's best possible score in all five of its crash tests – front, side, rear, rollover, and the difficult small-overlap – to be eligible for the safety accolade. Hyundai improved the 2016 Sonata's structure after the sedan's production began, so this rating only applied to examples produced after October.
To get the TSP+ honor, a vehicle's crash prevention tech needs to earn least two points on the IIHS' scale. The lower Top Safety Pick designation can go to model with a "basic" version of these systems like a front collision warning. The Civic, Sonata, and RX scored the maximum six points to get "superior" scores for their optional crash prevention tech because they avoided collisions at up to 25 miles per hour. The Altima was successful in a 12-mph test, but the system slowed the sedan by 10 mph in the 25-mph test rather than completely stopping it. Therefore, the agency awarded the Nissan five points, which was still a "superior" score.
You can watch the small-overlap tests for the Civic, RX, Altima, and Sonata respectively below.
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Honda Civic 4-door, Hyundai Sonata, Lexus RX and Nissan Altima are the latest vehicles to earn the top award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The four vehicles join the 2016 winner's circle just one month after the initial crop of 48 TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners was announced.
The requirements for TOP SAFETY PICK+ were tightened for 2016. To qualify, winners must earn good ratings in each of the Institute's five crashworthiness tests and have an available front crash prevention system earning an advanced or superior rating.
Vehicles that meet the crashworthiness criteria but have only a basic-rated front crash prevention system qualify for the second-tier award, TOP SAFETY PICK.
The Civic, Sonata, RX and Altima all come with superior-rated optional front crash prevention systems. In IIHS track tests, the first three vehicles avoided collisions at 12 mph and 25 mph. The Altima avoided a collision at 12 mph, while in the 25 mph test its impact speed was cut by 10 mph. All four systems include a warning function that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.
The Civic 4-door, a small car, and the RX, a midsize luxury SUV, were both redesigned for 2016. The 2015 Civic had qualified for TOP SAFETY PICK under the old criteria, while the previous generation of the RX had never been tested in the challenging small overlap front crash.
The Sonata and the Altima, both midsize cars, were 2015 award winners. Both cars had their structure improved to raise their small overlap front ratings from acceptable to good. Previously, vehicles could qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ with an acceptable rating in the small overlap front test.
In the case of the Sonata, the improvements were made after production for the 2016 model year had already begun. The award only applies to Sonatas built after October. Consumers can find a vehicle's manufacture date on the certification label typically located on or near the driver door.