Hyundai, VW, Volvo Lead the Industry in 2022 IIHS Top Safety Picks

More vehicles than ever earned high ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reflecting both the use of the latest advanced driver assistance systems and improvements in basic vehicle design.

VW ID.4 IIHS front offset crash test 2022
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted 65 vehicles — the highest number ever — qualified for Top Safety awards in 2022.

All told, 65 models earned the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ award, another 36 getting Top Safety Pick honors. Hyundai, Volkswagen and Volvo were the top three manufacturers in the 2022 Top Safety Pick program.

“We’re excited to see more vehicles on this list in 2022,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement announcing this year’s picks. “Our awards make it easy for car buyers to find models that will protect them in a crash and increase the odds they’ll never be in one. By shooting for Top Safety Pick+, automakers are showing that they’re committed to the same goal.”

Three carmakers top the list

The insurance industry-backed organization has steadily toughened the targets automakers must meet to earn the two awards in recent years. And the industry has generally responded by improving vehicle performance in such areas as offset frontal crashes. Most recently, the IIHS has set minimum performance standards for headlights — and that translated into big improvements for 2022, it reported.

The Hyundai Motor Group — including the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands — earned more awards than any other automaker for 2022, according to the IIHS, a total of 21 including 11 vehicles rated a Top Safety Pick+, and another getting Top Safety Pick ratings.

Audi A4 IIHS pedestrian crash test 2022
The use of advanced technology has helped vehicles, like this Audi A4, to improve pedestrian safety.

The Volkswagen Group, including VW and Audi branded models, garnered 11, including eight Pick+ models and three more getting a lower-tier Top Safety Pick rating.

Volvo landed 10 awards, all Top Safety Pick+ level.

While Mazda wasn’t in the top tier in the overall number of awards, it managed to get a Top Safety Pick+ for every single vehicle in its line-up the organization tested — five in all, excluding the MX-5 Miata.

Minivans and pickups pick up new awards

Significantly, four minivans and four pickups earned awards this year, “a big improvement for these classes over last year,” IIHS said in a summary of the latest results. These include the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Carnival vans. Among pickups, the Ram 1500 crew cab, Ford F-150 extended cab and crew cab and the Hyundai Santa Cruz garnered awards. Last year, only the Ram 1500 Crew Cab qualified.

“All the 2022 award winners earn good ratings in six IIHS crashworthiness tests, including the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, original side, roof strength and head restraint tests,” the organization noted.

Ram 1500 crew cab IIHS front offset crash 2022
IIHS officials noted that full-size pickups made significant improvements in 2022.

The winners are all available with front crash prevention technology rated “advanced,” or “superior,” and had at least one headlight system earning a “good,” or “acceptable” rating.

In recent years, the IIHS has shined a spotlight on the poor performance of many factory headlight systems, warning they may be improperly aimed or deliver less light than is needed for nighttime highway driving.

Toughening the standards

The IIHS plans to tighten its safety performance targets again for 2023, it confirmed, adding a new crash test, while also testing the ability of automatic emergency braking, or AEB, systems to detect pedestrians at night. And the headlight rating system will be toughened, as well, for next year.

“Manufacturers deserve congratulations for the steady improvements they’ve made since we last updated our award requirements, but with U.S. traffic fatalities expected to exceed 40,000 people in 2021, it’s no time for anybody to rest on their laurels,” said Harkey. “A key reason vehicles have continued to get safer over the more than 25 years since the Institute began our ratings program is that we have never shied away from raising the bar.”

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