2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Earns Top Safety Pick Plus Award

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today announced a new member of the prestigious Top Safety Pick Plus club: the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The midsize luxury SUV earned the award for good performance in small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and seat/head restraint evaluations, the IIHS reported. It is Mercedes-Benz’s first time earning the institute's highest honor since testing for small overlap protection began in 2012.

The automaker reinforced the vehicle's door sills to improve occupant protection in small overlap front crashes for models built after August 2013. In that test, the IIHS stated, the driver's space was maintained "reasonably well." Injury measures recorded on the crash-test dummy indicated harm to the lower leg would be possible in a crash of the tested severity, but that the risk of significant injury to other areas of the body would be low.

"The dummy's head made good contact with the front airbag, which stayed in position during the crash," the IIHS stated in a news release. "The side curtain airbag deployed and had sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with side structures and outside objects."

The institute added the stringent small overlap test last year to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or other object at 40 mph. Award recipients must earn ratings of good in four of five evaluations and at least acceptable in the fifth test. Many automakers have had difficulty scoring well on the test.

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News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers.  Email Matt