Latest IIHS Top Safety Pick Award Winners Named

Jack R. Nerad | Feb 25, 2021

Vehicles are getting safer each year. That is a conclusion to be drawn from the list of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award winners for 2021. 

Volvo Small Overlap Frontal Impact Crash Test

The insurance-industry-funded safety and research organization named 49 vehicle models as a Top Safety Pick+, its highest award, more than twice as many as it named last year. It cited an additional 41 vehicles as a Top Safety Pick. Between the two awards, IIHS lauded a total of 90 award winners this year versus 64 in 2020.

To earn Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick awards, vehicles must earn "Good" ratings in six standardized IIHS crashworthiness tests:

  • Driver-side small overlap front
  • Passenger-side small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints

Additionally, all award winners must offer front crash prevention that earns a "Superior" or "Advanced" rating in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. 

IIHS Headlight Ratings: Critical Safety Equipment - Find the best car deals!

The IIHS closely evaluates headlights, an often overlooked but very important safety system. They are the differentiator between earning a Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick designation. For the 2021 calendar year, Top Safety Pick winners must offer "Good" or "Acceptable" headlights as an option. Top Safety Pick+ award winners must have "Good" or "Acceptable" headlights as standard equipment.

"With these awards, we want to make it easy for consumers to find vehicles that provide good protection in crashes, sufficient lighting, and effective front crash protection," IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement announcing the awards. "Manufacturers have stepped up to meet the challenge, and the list of great options has grown to an impressive size this year."

2021 IIHS Top Safety Pick Award Winners - Find the best car deals!

Family with IIHS Top Safety Pick Volvo SUV

Volvo earned the most Top Safety Pick+ awards with nine for 2021. Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), which includes the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands, collected the highest total number of IIHS awards this year. Five HMG models earned Top Safety Pick+ ratings and 12 received a Top Safety Pick award. 

Both minivan and pickup truck drivers have safer choices of vehicles this year. Two minivans, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, received the Top Safety Pick+ award. The Ram 1500 crew cab earned Top Safety Pick honors and is the only pickup to win either award. In 2020, no minivans or pickups won IIHS honors.

Midsize luxury SUVs was the segment with the highest number of Top Safety Pick+ winners. Nine models and sub-models earned that designation:

Small cars is not a segment that is typically noted for vehicle safety, but its members captured a total of 16 IIHS honors for 2021, four Top Safety Pick+ awards and 12 Top Safety Pick awards. Here are those vehicles:

Top Safety Pick+ Small Cars for 2021

Top Safety Pick Small Cars for 2021

Front Crash Avoidance Systems: More Critical Safety Equipment - Find the best car deals!

Vehicles are not required to have standard front crash prevention to qualify for either Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick rating. But 20 automakers have signed a pledge to equip at least 95% of vehicles they make with vehicle-to-vehicle automatic emergency braking beginning in the 2022-23 production year. 

All 49 of the 2021 Top Safety Pick+ winners and 31 of the Top Safety Pick winners are equipped with standard systems that meet the IIHS vehicle-to-vehicle requirement. 

In addition, 48 of the Top Safety Pick+ winners and 26 of the Top Safety Pick winners meet the pedestrian crash prevention criterion with standard systems. The others qualify based on optional equipment.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on February 24, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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