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Top Safest Cars on the Road

Driving on the road, highway, or even a neighborhood street can be unpredictable. In addition to driving laws intended to control the flow of traffic and safe driving habits, many drivers rely on their vehicles to keep them safe.

Safest vehicles driving on a highway.

But how safe is your vehicle? There are a number of safety features that have become common additions to enhance a vehicle’s ability to protect passengers. Being aware of these features and the vehicles that include them can help drivers with the selection of their next vehicle.

How Vehicles Are Categorized

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), vehicle size and weight play a direct role in its ability to protect passengers from force experienced in a collision that could cause injury. If the vehicle is large, the space from the front of the car to the occupant compartment provides more protection from force sustained in the collision than that of a smaller vehicle.

Additionally, heavier vehicles will push lighter objects backward during impacts, further reducing the force and offering more protection for passengers.

During safety tests conducted by the IIHS and the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicles are classified into a series of categories based on weight and size, including:

  • Small cars
  • Midsize cars
  • Midsize luxury cars
  • Large cars
  • Large luxury cars
  • Small SUVs
  • Midsize SUVs
  • Midsize luxury SUVs
  • Large SUVs
  • Minivans
  • Large pickups

Each vehicle size offers drivers their own levels of protection. Regardless of the number of safety features a vehicle may be equipped with, its weight and size do have an impact on the amount of protection it can provide in an incident.

IIHS Car Safety Rating System

While there are many organizations that rate vehicle safety, the two most referenced programs are conducted by the NHTSA and the IIHS. Backed by first-hand research, each organization runs safety programs every year to test the latest vehicle models to come to market, each testing different aspects of the car’s safety and performance.

One of the most frequently referenced lists produced on annual model releases is found in the IIHS Safety Rating program. This program focuses on vehicle crashworthiness, or how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash, and crash avoidance and mitigation systems. Similar to the NHTSA, IIHS conducts six crash tests to determine the vehicle’s ability to protect passengers.

However, the format of the crash tests differ. The areas that the IIHS focuses on include:

  • Front crash tests
  • Side crash tests
  • Head restraint & seat test
  • Front crash prevention tests
  • Headlight evaluations
  • Child seat attachment hardware (LATCH) evaluation

The evaluations use a combination of two different grading systems. Front crash prevention tests focus on two factors, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian. These assessments are given a rating of Superior, Advanced, or Basic. The rest of the evaluations are graded on a scale of Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor (G,A,M, & P). Each vehicle’s ratings are unique and offer a more detailed understanding of its safety.

Top 10 Safest Cars on the Road 2021

Every year IIHS releases two lists of vehicles that perform best in their safety evaluation program. These lists include the TOP SAFETY PICK, which has been awarded since the 2006 model year, & the TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards, which began in 2013.

Although both vehicles on either list are considered the year’s “safest cars,” the vehicles that appear on the TOP SAFETY PICK+ list tend to have higher ratings in some areas.

According to the IIHC, here are the top safest vehicles per vehicle size & type category for 2021.

Small Cars

2021 Honda Insight

The Honda Insight is a 4-door sedan. It received G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations and Superiors in the crash avoidance & mitigation evaluations. It comes with standard daytime running lights, optional blind spot detection, standard lane departure warning, and standard lane departure prevention. It received an overall rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA.

2021 Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 comes as both a 4-door sedan and a 4-door hatchback. It received G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations, a G+ rating in the child seat anchor evaluation, and Superiors in the crash avoidance & mitigation. However, some trims have been given an A rating for headlights in terms of crash avoidance and mitigation. It comes with standard daytime running lights, optional blind-spot detection, standard lane departure warning, and standard lane departure prevention.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is a 4-door wagon. It received G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations, a G+ rating in the child seat anchor evaluation, and Superiors in the crash avoidance & mitigation.

Midsize Cars

2021 Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is a 4-door midsize sedan. The vehicle received G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations, a G+ rating in the child seat anchor evaluation, and Superiors in the crash avoidance & mitigation. However, some trims have been given an A rating for headlights in terms of crash avoidance and mitigation. The models come with standard daytime running lights, optional blind-spot detection, standard lane departure warning, and standard lane departure prevention. It received an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA.

2021 Mazda 6

The Mazda 6 is another 4-door sedan with G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations, a G+ rating in the child seat anchor evaluation, and Superiors in the crash avoidance & mitigation. Unlike the Mazda 3, some trims have been given an A rating for headlights in terms of crash avoidance and mitigation. It comes with standard daytime running lights, optional blind-spot detection, standard lane departure warning, and standard lane departure prevention.

2021 Nissan Maxima

The Nissan Maxima is a midsize 4-door sedan. It received G ratings in most of the IIHS safety evaluations, an A rating for headlights in terms of crash avoidance and mitigation, and a G+ rating in the child seat anchor evaluation. The vehicle comes with standard daytime running lights and lane departure warning, optional blind-spot detection, and lane departure prevention, and has an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA.

2021 Subaru Legacy

The Legacy is a 4-door midsize sedan that received G ratings in most of the IIHS safety evaluations, a G+ rating in the child seat anchor evaluation, and Superior ratings in the crash avoidance & mitigation tests. It received an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA and also comes with standard daytime running lights, optional blind-spot detection, standard lane departure warning, and standard lane departure prevention.

2021 Subaru Outback

The 2021 Outback is a midsize 4-door wagon. The vehicle received an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA, G ratings in most of the IIHS safety evaluations, a G+ rating in the child seat anchor evaluation, and Superior ratings in the crash avoidance & mitigation tests. Models come with standard daytime running lights,  optional blind-spot detection, standard lane departure warning, and standard lane departure prevention.

2021 Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is a midsize 4-door sedan with an almost perfect score on the IIHS safety evaluations. However, some vehicle trims have headlights that were given a rating of A in regards to crash avoidance & mitigation. Additionally, the child seat anchors were rated G+. The NHTSA gave the Camry an overall safety rating of 5 stars, and vehicles come with standard daytime running lights, optional blind-spot detection, standard lane departure warning, and standard lane departure prevention.

Midsize Luxury Cars

2021 Acura

The Acura TLX is a midsize 4-door sedan with a perfect rating on the IIHS safety evaluation. It also received an overall safety rating of 5 stars by the NHTSA.

2021 Lexus IS

The Lexus IS is a midsize luxury 4-door sedan. It received G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations and Superiors in the crash avoidance & mitigation evaluations. However, some models with certain trims have a headlight rating of A in regards to crash avoidance & mitigation. The Lexus comes with standard daytime running lights, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention. It received an overall rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA.

2021 Tesla Model 3

The latest of the Tesla line, the Model 3 is a 4-door midsize luxury sedan. It received G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations except the child seat anchor test, in which it received an A rating. It also received an overall rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA. Additionally, each model comes with standard daytime running lights, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, and lane departure prevention.

2021 Volvo S60 & Volvo S60 Recharge

These two midsize, 4-door luxury sedans received almost perfect ratings from the IIHS safety evaluations except the child seat anchor evaluations, in which they received an A rating. Only the Volvo S60 was tested by the NHTSA and it received an overall safety rating of 5 stars. Models come with standard daytime running lights, lane departure warnings, and lane departure prevention.

Large Luxury Cars

2021 Audi A6

The Audi A6 is a large, luxury 4-door sedan that was given a perfect score on the IIHS safety evaluations. The vehicles come with standard daytime running lights and lane departure warnings. It also received a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.

2021 Audi A7
Unlike the previous Audi, the A7 is a luxury 4-door hatchback that received almost perfect ratings in the IIHS safety evaluations. Some trims of this vehicle come with headlights that received an A rating in regards to crash avoidance & mitigation.

2021 Genesis G70

The Genesis G70 is a luxury 4-door sedan. When tested by the IIHS, it received Superior ratings in the crash avoidance & mitigation evaluations, an M rating in the child seat anchors evaluation, and G ratings in the remaining categories.

2021 Genesis G90
The Genesis G90 is another luxury 4-door sedan that received G ratings in most of the IIHS safety evaluations. In the crash avoidance & mitigation evaluations, it received a Superior rating in the vehicle-to-vehicle test and an Advanced rating in the vehicle-to-pedestrian category. These models come with standard daytime running lights, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, and lane departure prevention.

Small SUVs

2021 Mazda CX-30

The Mazda CX-30 is a small, 4-door SUV that received a nearly perfect score in the IIHS safety evaluations. Its lowest rating was given to select trims in the headlights category in regards to crash avoidance & mitigation. All models come with standard daytime running lights, lane departure warnings, and lane departure prevention. It has also received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA.

2021 Nissan Rogue

The 2021 Nissan Rogue is a small, 4-door SUV that has received perfect ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations. However, it has only received a 4-star rating from the NHTSA. Model all come equipped with standard daytime running lights, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, and lane departure prevention

2021 Subaru Forester
Similar to the Nissan Rogue, the Subaru Forester is a small SUV that received perfect ratings in the IIHS safety evaluations. However, unlike the previous SUV, the Forester received a 5-star rating from the NHTSA. All models come with standard daytime running lights, lane departure warning, and lane departure prevention, in addition to optional blind-spot detection.

Midsize SUVs

2021 Hyundai Palisade

The Hyundai Palisade is a 4-door midsize SUV that received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA. It received Superior and G ratings in almost all of the IIHS safety evaluations except the child seat anchor evaluation, in which it received an A rating. Models come equipped with standard daytime running lights, lane departure warnings, and lane departure prevention.

2021 Subaru Ascent
Yet another Subaru, the 2021 Ascent is a 4-door midsize SUV. It received perfect ratings in the IIHS safety evaluations, as well as an overall safety rating of 5-stars from the NHTSA. Models come equipped with standard daytime running lights, lane departure warning, and lane departure prevention, as well as optional blind-spot detection.

2021 Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is a 4-door midsize SUV. It received an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA as well as Superior and G ratings in the IIHS safety evaluations. Highlanders come equipped with standard daytime running lights,  lane departure warning, and lane departure prevention as well as optional blind-spot detection.

Midsize Luxury SUVs

2021 Acura RDX

The Acura RDX is a midsize luxury SUV. It received almost perfect ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations except in the vehicle-to-pedestrian crash avoidance & mitigation category, in which it received an Advanced rating. This vehicle was given an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA, and each model comes equipped with standard lane departure prevention, lane departure warning, and daytime running lights, as well as optional blind-spot detection.

2021 Lexus NX
The Lexus NX is a 4-door luxury SUV. It was given Superior and G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations except for the child seat anchor test, in which it received an A. It was also given an overall safety rating of 5-stars from the NHTSA. Models come equipped with standard daytime running lights, blind-spot detection, lane departure prevention, and lane departure warning.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

The GLE-class is a 4-door, midsize luxury SUV. It received Superior and G ratings in all of the IIHS safety evaluations and an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA. Models come equipped with standard daylight running lights and standard blind-spot detection.

Minivans

2021 Honda Odyssey

The 2021 Odyssey is a minivan that received a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. The van also received Superior and G ratings in most of the IIHS safety evaluations. The child safety anchors were given a rating of G+, and the headlights received an A rating in regards to crash avoidance & mitigation. All models come equipped with standard daytime running lights and have optional blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, and lane departure prevention add ons.

Large Pickups

2021 Ram 1500

The 2021 Ram 1500 is a large, crew cab pickup that received an overall safety rating of 5 stars from the NHTSA. The truck received G ratings in most of the IIHS safety evaluations. However, it received an M rating on the child seat anchor test and an M rating for headlights in regards to crash avoidance & mitigation on select model trims. During the remaining crash avoidance & mitigation evaluations, it received a Superior rating for vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention and an Advanced in vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention. All models come with standard daytime running lights.

Safe Cars Are Not Safe Driving Guarantees

Even in the world’s safest cars, the road can be unpredictable. Driving habits, adverse weather, or random incidents can still lead drivers in safe vehicles to a collision.

After a collision, getting your car back in shape may be the best way to ensure safety when it's time to hit the road again. The collision repair experts at Gerber Collision & Glass have more than 80 years of quality auto collision and auto glass repair experience. Every Gerber shop is staffed with professional technicians who deliver outstanding customer service, including insurance paperwork assistance, twice-weekly repair updates, and quality auto collision repair that is backed by our National Lifetime Guarantee.

Call us at 1-877-7GERBER or schedule an appointment today.

DISCLAIMER: This article is presented for informational purposes only and should not be seen as any kind of advice. The information provided herein or linked to via this article is 'as is' with no guarantee of accuracy or completeness. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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