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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The Nissan GT-R probably isn't the first supercar that comes to mind, but it's worthy of consideration if you're not all about being seen.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

You put the pedal down. A confident growl busts out the back end. The wheels may squeal, and you might too. It's not all about the power, though it has plenty. The 2021 Nissan GT-R delivers the type of drive experience that you're never going to get from an electric vehicle - and it's magnificent.

Godzilla has been in production since 2007 with nips and tucks and add-ons here and there along the way. It's not as sleek or stylish as the Audi E-Tron GT or even Audi's R8. There's no giant wing out back à la McLaren and certainly nothing Italian about it. The GT-R is it's own man.

Even areas of the country that are supercar-heavy, aren't heavy with GT-Rs. A Ferrari or Lamborghini is a bigger status symbol for adoring eyes. It's the real drivers out there who know that a GT-R is perhaps the better investment for someone who wants a supercar to drive, not just to be seen in. Its unique looks are subtle but properly athletic.

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium The car is capable as a daily driver but it can also push the limits during a track day.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

The reason for that starts but doesn't end with Nissan's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6. It rests below the hood, not behind your ears, and delivers 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque creating a visceral acceleration experience. It's enough to satisfy you, bring a smile to your face, impress those around you, and make you realize that Godzilla really is a beast.

The six-speed dual-clutch transmission in the GT-R Premium ($113,540 base price) manages the power nicely and shifts relatively smoothly - it's no Ford 10-speed automatic and that's okay. If you want a GT-R with a manual transmission, you'll have to upgrade to the NISMO model. Don't "save the manuals" me. So few people are buying them that they're becoming extinct despite your bumper sticker saying and hashtag. Most supercars don't have them. Nissan is just simply following an industry trend and the DCT is perfectly fine for drivers not spending the majority of their time on a track.

All wheel drive is standard on the model, meaning that the GT-R sticks to the road as you put it through its paces. That also means that you don't need to head home every time there's rainfall or snow in the forecast, and you can take corners a little faster than the local constabulary may prefer.

The car has athletic looks despite not conforming to the typical supercar design language.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

Proper engineering has made the GT-R a great daily driver. It's fun to push it around the twisties on a winding road in the country during a long weekend, but it's also not a bad car to commute or run errands in (it has a real trunk!). Like any good supercar, the GT-R goes right where you want, when you want it, whether you're doing slow speed maneuvering around a neighborhood or putting the throttle down on the highway. The speed-sensitive steering calibration is spot-on.

Parts of the interior are dated, especially when compared to other vehicles in its price point. But none of those parts are enough to make the GT-R even the least bit undesirable. The seats are surprisingly comfortable and the ride isn't too harsh. Analog dials are a nice break for the eyes.

But the real reason you're in the GT-R isn't because of the the amenities. It's because you love to drive. Because you're confident enough to go with Godzilla rather than a flashy Italian or German. Because you understand that the car nicknamed after a fictional monster, and its gasoline-powered ilk, are in danger of going extinct as carbon neutral priorities seem keen on removing the type of visceral fun that internal combustion engines provide.

The car has analog dials in front of the driver.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If we're going to have to make concessions to make the air and water cleaner, it would be nice if, on the other end of the spectrum, the powers that be let us keep having the muscle of the GT-R.

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San Jose Hotel engineering manager Rocky Ontiveros, 60, wears a Texas mask on March 3, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new executive order that will end the statewide mask mandate and allow businesses to reopen at 100 percent capacity on March 10, 2021.

Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Reporting by Automotive News indicates that despite Texas Governor Greg Abbott's executive order lifting the mask mandate statewide and allowing businesses to begin operating at 100-percent capacity again, automakers aren't changing their tune.

This executive order rescinds most of the Governor's earlier executive orders related to COVID-19. The original orders were put in place as a response to rising COVID-19 cases, and related hospitalizations and deaths, in 2020.

The new order removes state regulations and allows private businesses and individuals to decide on their mask wearing protocol and habits. There are currently mask mandates in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

There are fallbacks in place. A release from the Governor's office states, "If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies. However, County Judges may not impose jail time for not following COVID-19 orders nor may any penalties be imposed for failing to wear a face mask. If restrictions are imposed at a County level, those restrictions may not include reducing capacity to less than 50% for any type of entity."

Toyota

Toyota, which has a factory in San Antonio, Texas told a reporter with Automotive News that they are looking into the move but don't anticipate any immediate changes to their mask-wearing protocol. Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. employs 2,542 people and makes the midsize Tacoma and full-size Tundra pickup trucks.

The automaker as has its North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. That facility employs around 4,400 people, most of whom have been working remotely for the better part of a year.

"The early read is – no change for us," said Scott Vazin, Group Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Toyota Motor North America, when approached for comment by Automotive News.

Toyota assembly plants traditionally offers tours of its facility to the general public. Due to COVID-19, plant tours have been suspended at all Toyota manufacturing facilities including those in San Antonio; Jackson, Tennessee; Blue Spring, Mississippi; and Troy, Missouri.

General Motors

General Motors (GM) has a big footprint in Texas. The company employs 8,133 people in the Lone Star State and works with 297 suppliers in the state across 13 facilities. Additionally, as of 2020, there are 588 GM dealership franchises in Texas.

The company's Arlington Assembly plant is home to every new full-size SUV in GM's product lineup sold globally: the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade. GM Financial is headquartered in Fort Worth and one of GM's IT Innovation Centers is located in Austin. Assembly plants get much of their power from wind energy harvested from Cactus Flats and Hidalgo wind farms.

There are GM Financial centers in San Antonio, Arlington, and Sugar Land; a customer service center in Austin; a parts distribution site in Fort Worth; GM Financial headquarters in Fort Worth; a commercial lending office and the South Central Regional Office are in Irving.

Patrick Morrissey, Director, Corporate News Relations at GM, told Automotive News, "We'll keep our COVID safety protocols in place to ensure we continue to protect our employees."

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