2019 BMW 3 Series tops previous model in safety with IIHS' highest rating

It has better automatic emergency braking, headlights, child seat anchors

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The 2019 BMW 3 Series stirred up a bit of controversy among car enthusiasts when it made its debut with no manual transmission and some bold styling updates. But there are good points, too: We found it to be more enjoyable to drive (by design) when we tried out a prototype. And now it can boast improved safety. It's improved so much, in fact, the BMW 3 Series has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ designation, its highest recommendation.

Like its predecessor, the new 3 Series has the highest "Good" score in every crash test, including the passenger-side small overlap test the old one never went through. Where it improves is in forward collision prevention, headlights and child seat anchors. Forward collision prevention especially improved all the way to the highest "Superior" rating with both stock and optional equipment. The previous model only scored "Basic" for the standard car, a rating given to a car with simply a forward collision warning. Optional equipment brought it up to "Advanced," which was given because it had automatic braking, but it only reduced crash speed rather than fully preventing a crash at the test's speeds of 12 and 25 mph. The new model brings the car to a complete stop at both test speeds.

With headlights, the highest-level optional units earned "Good" scores. The midlevel lights were rated "Marginal," and the standard lights were given the lowest score of "Poor." On the old car, all headlights except the high-end ones were rated "Poor" and those top lights were rated "Acceptable." Child seat LATCH anchor access has also improved from "Marginal" to "Good."

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