Safety First

America's Safest Vehicles: These 49 cars and SUVs earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2021

Volvo placed several cars on the annual list of safest vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

This week the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released their list of the 2021 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 2021 Top Safety Pick+ winner, vehicles must score at least a Good rating in the driver- and 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.

Click here to see 2020's results.

2021 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. The only sore spot was the SUV's standard front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention system, which was rated as a two out of three.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX AdvancePhoto courtesy of Acura

The 2021 Acura TLX earned the highest marks possible in every category of testing.

2021 Audi A6

2020 Audi A6

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi A6 is a luxury large four-door sedan. It earned 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.

2021 Audi A6 Offroad

2020 Audi A6 AllroadPhoto courtesy of Audi AG

Audi's wagon version of the A6 Allroad earned the same crash test and crash avoidance and mitigation scores as its sedan stablemate.

2021 Audi A7

2021 Audi A7Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi A7 earned the highest scores possible in all by one category - headlights. There, it managed to only get an Acceptable rating.

2021 Audi E-Tron

2020 Audi E-Tron SUVPhoto courtesy of Audi AG

Like many models on this list, the Audi E-Tron is plenty crashworthy, scoring all Good marks. However, its headlights are only Acceptable in lower trim levels while top grades get a Good rating.

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The sloped-roof version of the Audi E-Tron shares most of its components with the model. It earned the exact same marks as the E-Ton - all Good except for lower-grade models with non-premium headlights get an Acceptable rating.

2021 Cadillac XT6

2020 Cadillac XT6Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac XT6 is the automaker's only entry on this list. It earns all Good crash test ratings, an Acceptable headlight rating, and Superior front crash protection ratings for its standard and available systems. LATCH ease of use is only rated as Acceptable.

2021 Ford Explorer

2020 Ford ExplorerPhoto courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Explorer isn't perfect, but it is nearly there. The SUV has earned all Good ratings from IIHS except in the headlight and LATCH system categories where it's ranked as merely Acceptable.

2021 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. While it earned all Good marks for crashworthiness and the all-important headlight test, the car's LATCH system was given just Marginal marks.

2021 Genesis G90

2020 Genesis G902020 Genesis G90Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

IIHS also categorizes the Genesis G90 as a four-door luxury large car. It too earned all Good crash test ratings but its LATCH system fared slightly better than the G70's, getting an Acceptable rating.

2021 Honda Accord

Honda AccordHonda AccordPhoto courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The 2021 Honda Accord earned its designation by getting a perfect score in every category. Depending on the trim level, the car's headlights either earned a top Good rating or just an Acceptable mark.

2021 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.

2021 Honda Odyssey

2021 Honda Odyssey2021 Honda Odyssey gets $1,000 starting price bump, but one grade gets a big decreasePhoto courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Odyssey was refreshed for the 2021 model year, a move that has improved its IIHS crash test results. The Odyssey received all Good crashworthiness ratings but its headlights were only deemed Acceptable.

2021 Hyundai Nexo

2020 Hyundai Nexo

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai-branded hydrogen fuel cell vehicle 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.

2021 Hyundai Palisade

2021 Hyundai Palisade CalligraphyPhoto courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a family hauler that easily competes with more premium-priced SUVs. The three-row SUV scored Good on all its crash tests and earned the highest technology and headlight ratings.

2021 Kia K5

2021 Kia K5Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia K5 did well in IIHS crash testing, but its headlights didn't fare as well. Depending on the grade, their score was either Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor. The K5's standard front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention system scored just a two out of three and LATCH ease of use scored an Acceptable rating. These ratings only apply to K5s produced after November 2020.

2021 Lexus ES 350

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.

2021 Lexus IS

2021 Lexus ISPhoto courtesy of Lexus

Lexus gave the IS a massive improvement for the 2021 model year and it's paid off - not just in terms of drivability, but also safety. It scored top Good ratings in all tests except the headlights section where it lower trim levels earn an Acceptable rating while higher grades get a Good.

2021 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 except for the LATCH ease of use, where it merely scored an Acceptable rating.

2021 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 Acceptable headlight ratings. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention. The SUV's LATCH system was rated as Acceptable.

2021 Mazda CX-30

2020 Mazda CX-3Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The new-in-2020 Mazda CX-30 has its rating only apply to vehicles built after September 2020. The SUV received all Good crashworthiness ratings but its standard headlights were rated Poor. Everything else about the car was highly rated.

2021 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.

2021 Mazda CX-9

2021 Mazda CX-9Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 has received all Good marks except in the crash avoidance and mitigation category. There, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system only received an Advanced score. The CX-9's LATCH system was not evaluated.

2021 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 had an Acceptable or Good rating, depending on the headlights offered on the model's trim level.

2021 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 had an Acceptable or Good rating, depending on the trim level chosen.

2021 Mazda Mazda6

2020 Mazda Mazda6

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The four-door midsize Mazda Mazda6 got all Good marks in the six crashworthiness categories. The car's headlights earned Good and Acceptable headlight ratings as the lights vary by trim level.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes-Benz GLEPhoto courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLE was tested with optional front crash prevention technology. It earned all Good marks but its headlights were split between Good and Acceptable, depending on trim level. The car's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system was only rated as Basic.

2021 Nissan Altima

2020 Nissan AltimaPhoto courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's Altima received all Good crash test ratings but its headlights earned just an Acceptable score.

2021 Nissan Maxima

2020 Nissan MaximaPhoto 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. This rating only applies to Maximas built after November 2020.

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan RoguePhoto courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue received outstanding marks in all IIHS evaluation categories including the headlight and LATCH tests.

2021 Subaru Ascent

2021 Subaru AscentPhoto courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Subaru's largest SUV received all Good scores in IIHS testing thanks in large part to its standard EyeSight safety technology. The three-row Subaru Ascent has a high strength-to-weight ratio.

2021 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.

2021 Subaru Forester

2020 Subaru Forester

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Forester small SUV earned a Good rating in every IIHS testing category, much like the rest of its Subaru family.

2021 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, including its headlights, which is a higher mark than what they earned last year.

2021 Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Outback was awarded all Good and higher scores in IIHS testing this year.

2021 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. The car's LATCH system is rated as Acceptable.

2021 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.

2021 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota HighlanderPhoto courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Highlander does as well as most other three-row SUVs in IIHS testing - all Good scores except a Good/Acceptable split in the headlights test.

2021 Toyota Sienna

2021 Toyota Highlander

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

The Toyota Sienna was redesigned for the 2021 model year as a hybrid-only minivan. The van's redesign has been engineered well, earning it all Good scores from IIHS. Like many other vehicles, the Sienna's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system is just basic.

2021 Volvo S60

2021 Volvo S60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo S60 has earned perfect marks from IIHS except when it comes the LATCH system ease of use. There, it scores just an Acceptable rating.

2021 Volvo S60 Recharge

Like the traditional S60, the S60 Recharge has gotten all top ratings except in the LATCH category.

2021 Volvo V60

2020 Volvo V60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo V60 is the wagon version of the S60. It has gotten the same score.

2021 Volvo V60 Recharge

The V60 and V60 Recharge have the same relationship to each other as the S60 and S60 Recharge so it makes sense that they have the same scores. The V60 and V60 Recharge scored all Goods, except in the LATCH category, where the mark was Acceptable.

2021 Volvo XC40

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC40 scored the best of any Volvo on this list. It earned all Good crashworthiness marks, has Superior standard vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention systems, and earned an Acceptable LATCH connection rating.

2021 Volvo XC60

2020 Volvo XC60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC60 is a well-engineered vehicle. It earns all Good crash test ratings and has Acceptable headlights and LATCH connections. The SUV's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system is Advanced.

2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge

The XC60 Recharge, a twin of the XC60 except in powertrain, scored exactly the same as its brother in IIHS testing.

2021 Volvo XC90

2020 Volvo XC90 T8

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC90 scored well in IIHS testing, earning all Good crashworthiness scores, but its headlights and LATCH connections earn Acceptable scores. The standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system earned an Advanced rating.

2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge

The Volvo XC90 Recharge, which varies from the XC90 in powertrain alone when it comes to equipment, earned the same IIHS ratings as the XC90.

Trending News

 
 

The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

Trending News

 
 

New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

Trending News