IIHS gives 90 models its Top Safety Pick award in one fell swoop

49 of them earned Top Safety Pick+ awards — here's who led the way

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Although the Audi A7 and the Toyota Sienna are positioned on completely different ends of the automotive spectrum, they overlap in one important area: both earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They're among the 49 cars that received the distinction for 2021, while 41 additional models scored a Top Safety Pick (without the plus) award from the institute, bringing the number of winners to 90.

Earning a coveted Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS is easier said than done. Recipients need to score a good rating in the institute's six crash tests, be available with a front crash prevention system that scores a superior or advanced rating in vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations, and be offered with (but, crucially, not necessarily fitted standard with) headlights that are either good or acceptable. Vehicles that have good or acceptable headlights across the full range, regardless of trim level, are eligible for the Top Safety Pick+ award.

The Hyundai Group (which includes Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis) earned more awards than any other carmaker, with 12 standard Top Safety Pick distinctions and five earning a Pick+.

Volvo led the Pick+ chart with its entire lineup of nine vehicles.

At the other end of the spectrum, Mitsubishi still hasn't earned a single award, and General Motors only nabbed one of each.

Safety is spreading across market segments, according to the IIHS. It pointed out that, in 2020, there were no minivans or pickup trucks on the list of Top Safety Pick recipients. Fast forward to 2021, and the list includes the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, and the Ram 1500 crew cab; the first two earned a Pick+.

The full list of 2021 award winners is on the IIHS website. Note that, for some models, only units built after a certain date earned an award. This distinction reflects a change (usually in headlights) during the production run.

Cars sold in the United States are safer than ever, but automakers still sell vehicles with a zero-star crash test rating in many global markets. Suzuki's 2020 S-Presso flunked a reasonably basic round of tests in 2020.

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