CARS.COM — The 2017 Toyota Highlander has not lost any ground to its predecessor when it comes to crashworthiness. Toyota announced today that the 2017 Highlander has earned a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the crash-testing agency’s highest honor. The SUV also received the honor in its 2016 incarnation, but it now adds a more powerful and efficient engine as well as more standard safety equipment.
Related: 2017 Toyota Highlander Video Review
To qualify for a Top Safety Pick Plus award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in all five IIHS crash tests, including small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints evaluations, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and acceptable or good for headlights. In addition to scoring good in all five crash tests, the Highlander earned a superior rating for its front crash prevention system and acceptable for headlights.
“And unlike most Top Safety Pick Plus winners, which meet the front crash prevention and headlight criteria when they’re equipped with optional features,” Toyota boasted in a statement, “the Highlander qualifies for the award with standard equipment.”
For comparison, the 2016 Highlander earned good scores in all five tests and an advanced rating for front crash prevention. The headlight rating is new for 2017, so last year’s model was not subject to it for its Plus award.
Among 2017 competitors, the Highlander runs mid-pack. The Hyundai Santa Fe, also a Plus designee, edges it out with a good rating for headlights, while the Honda Pilot matches it test for test to earn its Plus rating. The Ford Explorer, meanwhile, falls short of a Top Safety Pick award with a marginal score in small overlap front testing, a basic score for front crash prevention and no reported rating for headlights.