Safety First

America's Safest Vehicles: These 23 cars and SUVs earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2020

Mazda is the automaker with the most vehicles to earn the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

This week the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released their list of the 2020 Top Safety Pick+ vehicles. The models earning this designation are the cream of the crop earning high marks for their safety features, crashworthiness, and headlight visibility.

To qualify as a 2020 Top Safety Pick+ winner, vehicles must score at least a Good rating in the driver-size small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. They must also get an Advanced or Superior rating for available front crash prevention — vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. Finally, their headlights must be rated as Acceptable or Good.

The vehicles listed below checked all those boxes.

Acura RDX

2020 Acura RDX

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Acura RDX is a four-door midsize luxury SUV. It earned all Good crash test ratings and a mixed Good and Acceptable headlight rating (varies by trim level). It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

Audi A6

2020 Audi A6

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi A6 is a luxury large four-door sedan. It earned similar marks to the RDX with all Good crash test ratings and a mixed Good and Acceptable headlight rating (varies by trim level). It performed better in the front crash protection scenarios earning two Superior ratings.

Cadillac XT6

2020 Cadillac XT6 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac XT6 is a four-door midsize luxury SUV that is new to the market for 2020. This award only applies to models built after October 2019. It earns all Good crash test ratings, an Acceptable headlight rating, and Superior front crash protection ratings for its standard and available systems.

Genesis G70

2020 Genesis G70

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motor LLC

Despite being the smallest car Genesis builds, the G70 is categorized by IIHS as a four-door luxury large car. The ratings it earned apply only to models built after December 2019. While it earned all Good marks for crashworthiness, the car faltered a bit in the headlight test with the available headlights earning a Good rating while others got a less distinguished Passing rating. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

Genesis G80

2020 Genesis G80

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motor LLC

IIHS also categorizes the Genesis G80 as a four-door luxury large car. It too earned all Good crash test ratings. Its headlights took home Good and Acceptable marks. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

Honda Insight

2020 Hyundai Insight

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Insight is a four-door small sedan with big appeal for commuters. It has earned the highest marks IIHS gives in each area it was evaluated. The Insight is one of the few models to earn just high praise.

Hyundai Nexo

2020 Hyundai Nexo

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Despite being from the Hyundai brand, the four-door hydrogen-powered SUV is categorized as a midsize luxury SUV by IIHS. This probably has something to do with its high price tag. The Nexo scored nearly all top-tier ratings. The exception is in the vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention test where it earned an Advanced rating.

Lexus ES

2020 Lexus ES

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The 2020 Lexus ES 350 is a four-door midsize luxury car that was redesigned for the 2019 model year. It scored all Good ratings in the crashworthiness tests but earned just Good and Acceptable headlight ratings as the lights vary by trim level. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

Lexus NX

2018 Lexus NX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

IIHS categorizes the four-door Lexus NX as a midsize luxury sedan. It, like the Honda Insight, earned all top-tier marks inn every testing category.

Mazda CX-3

2020 Mazda CX-3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

As far as four-door small SUVs go, the Mazda CX-3 is one of the safest. It scored all Good ratings in the crashworthiness tests but earned just Good and Acceptable headlight ratings because the lights vary by trim level. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

Mazda CX-5

2020 Mazda CX-5

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

IIHS's ratings of the four-door Mazda CX-5 small SUV apply only to models with the available front crash prevention system. When equipped with that system, the CX-5 gets rated as having Good crashworthiness, Good and Acceptable headlights because the lights vary by trim level, Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection with its optional system, and Advanced front vehicle-to-vehicle (standard) and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention (available) with the systems.

Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback

2020 Mazda Mazda3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The four-door Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback earned all top-tier ratings from IIHS except in the headlight test where it just had an Acceptable rating.

Mazda Mazda3 Sedan

2020 Mazda Mazda3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Like the hatchback variant, the four-door Mazda Mazda3 small sedan earned all top-tier ratings from IIHS except in the headlight test where it just had an Acceptable rating.

Mazda Mazda6

2020 Mazda Mazda6

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The four-door midsize Mazda Mazda6 is slightly further into its current generation than the Mazda3, which could justify its less stellar ratings. Still, it got all Good marks in the six crashworthiness categories, Superior in the front crash prevention: vehicle-to-vehicle ratings, and Advanced in the front crash prevention: vehicle-to-pedestrian categories. The car's headlights earned Good and Acceptable headlight ratings as the lights vary by trim level.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, equipped with the available front crash prevention technology, earned nearly perfect ratings. The one holdback is the headlights category where the standard headlamps were only rated Acceptable whereas the available ones received a Good mark.

Mercedes-Benz GLE

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLE, equipped with the available front crash prevention technology, earned the exact same marks as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Nissan Maxima

2020 Nissan Maxima Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The four-door Nissan Maxima sedan is one of the models that earned a nearly perfect score. The only place where it faltered is with its headlamps, which scored just an Acceptable rating.

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, earned a perfect score in all the categories IIHS tested.

Subaru Forester

2020 Subaru Forester

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Forester small SUV very nearly earned a perfect score. The one holdback is the headlights category where the standard headlamps were only rated Acceptable whereas the available ones received a Good mark.

Subaru Legacy

2020 Subaru Legacy

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Legacy's scores are the same as the Subaru Forester's. It got all Good marks except for its standard headlamps, which were only rated Acceptable whereas the available ones received a Good mark.

Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Outback's award only applies to vehicles built after October 2019. Those wagons all earned a perfect score in every category except the headlight test. The headlights earned Marginal, Acceptable, and Good marks, depending on the trim level.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 all-electric sedan earned all Good ratings in its crashworthiness test but didn't score quite as well in the front crash prevention: vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluation where it got just an Advanced rating.

Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

All of the Toyota Camry sedan's crashworthiness scores earned a Good rating. Its headlamps were only rated Acceptable whereas the available ones received a Good mark. The car's front crash prevention: vehicle-to-pedestrian system received an Advanced rating.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue includes the technology.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan continues to roll out its Rear Door Alert (RDA) technology across its lineup. An announcement this week by the company confirmed that the alert is now available on 12 vehicles. It is expected to be available on all four-door trucks, sedans, and SUVs by 2022. That date is important as it marks the completion of a series of product rollouts the company has planned.

For model year 2020, RDA is standard on the Nissan Altima, Armada, Kicks (SV and SR), LEAF, Murano, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Sentra, TITAN (King Cab and Crew Cab) and Versa (SV and SR).

2020 Nissan rear door alert Drivers can temporarily or permanently disable the alerts in Nissan vehicles.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rear Door Alert was developed by a pair of Nissan engineers and first installed in the 2018 Pathfinder. RDA was the industry's first system to use the horn, door sensors, and message display on the center instrument panel, to remind drivers to check the back seat after the vehicle is parked.

In Nissan vehicles, RDA works by monitoring when a rear door is open and closed before and after the vehicle is in motion. If a rear door was opened and shut before the vehicle is in motion. Once the vehicle is in park, the system will first display a notification in the instrument panel. If the driver exits the vehicle and does not open a rear door, the system progresses to distinctive chirps of the horn.

Drivers can configure and temporarily or permanently turn off RDA though a menu in the instrument cluster display or through separate RDA switch, depending on the model.

Last year, Nissan joined other vehicle manufacturers in a pledge to have a rear seat reminder feature in essentially all cars and trucks by model year 2025 or sooner. The approach that each automaker takes may be different.

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The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept shows of the possible future of a V8 under the hood of a Jeep.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept model shows that the production model of a V8-powered Wrangler (and possibly Gladiator) is likely on the way - and that's straight from the people in the know at FCA.

Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler -8 and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen," said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA North America. "From the recently introduced 29-mpg Wrangler EcoDiesel to our award-winning Jeep Gladiator, and the upcoming Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Jeep is clearly listening to its customers. We are anxious to gauge their reaction to this new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a vehicle that delivers an incredible and unmatched level of fun-to-drive performance and capability, on- and off-road."

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept The model is pretty standard for a modern Wrangler Rubicon - on the outside.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's been a hot minute since there was a V8 under the hood of a Jeep. The last model to wear its power proudly was the 1981 Jeep CJ, which had a 5.0-liter V8 that delivered 125 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque.

The Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is powered by a 6.4-liter (392-cubic-inch) HEMI V8 that delivers 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. That power gives the concept a zero to 60 mph time of less than five seconds.

Its engine is paired with a more robust version of the traditional eight-speed automatic, something that the HEMI in the Charger Scat Pack gets as well.

The parts roster includes Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers with a Warn winch, and a steel belly pan. It also comes with Dana 44 axles, Selec-Track full-time two-speed transfer case (3.73 gear ratio), and Tru-Lok electric front- and rear-axle locking differentials. The SUV rides on custom 17-inch deadlock wheels that are wrapped in 37-inch mud-terrain tires.

The suspension of the typical Wrangler JL has been upgraded to include new aluminum, monotube Fox shocks, and two-mode exhaust, which is adjustable at the touch of a button.

The company has installed a factory Jeep Performance Parts two-inch lift kit from Mopar.

All that equipment gives the model some impressive numbers. It has a water fording capability of 34 inches, 13.25 inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 51.6 degrees, a breaker angle of 29.5 degrees, and a departure angle of 40.1 degrees. It's Trail Rated.

Jeep has given the concept a Granite Crystal paint job, bronze-colored tow hooks, badging, springs, shocks, and wheels. There's a heavy-duty raised hood, custom half doors, and Wrangler's Sky One-touch powertop.

The concepts interior features a Red Rock-colored leather bolstered seats with gold stitching, along with a performance steering wheel.

When will you see the production version of the V8? These things take time, but remember, the auto show circuit looks to pick up in earnest early next year, and we have the Wrangler 4xe to see first.

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