2020 Mazda CX-9 Improves Crash Safety Ratings With Headlight Upgrade

mazda-cx-9-2019-06-exterior--grey--profile--urban.jpg 2019 Mazda CX-9 | photo by Christian Lantry

Mazda updated the standard headlights on its 2020 CX-9 three-row SUV and now any model built after December 2019 is designated a Top Safety Pick Plus — the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s top crashworthiness award. The automaker also updated the optional headlights for the 2020 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, though both were already 2020 Top Safety Pick Plus designees and there’s no Top Safety Pick Plus Plus. (Yet.)

Related: How Do Car Seats Fit in a 2020 Mazda CX-9?

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For 2020, vehicles must have standard headlights rated at least acceptable — on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable or good — to qualify for the Top Safety Pick Plus award. Previously, the CX-9’s optional curve-adaptive LED headlights were rated good, but the standard headlights were rated marginal. With the update, the CX-9’s standard headlights now earn a good rating. Again, this only applies to CX-9 models built after December 2019. As for the Mazda3, its standard headlights already earned an acceptable rating; the update improves the rating of its optional curve-adaptive LED headlights from acceptable to good.

Besides the headlight rating, a 2020 Top Safety Pick Plus vehicle must earn a score of good in six crashworthiness tests — driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — using the same rating scale for the headlights. It must also have an available front crash prevention system that earns a rating of advanced or superior on a scale of basic, advanced or superior. The CX-9’s standard front crash prevention systems earn a superior rating for vehicle-to-vehicle protection and an advanced rating in vehicle-to-pedestrian testing.

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As of this writing, the updated 2020 CX-9 is the only vehicle in its class to earn a Top Safety Pick Plus award. Others — like the 2020 Hyundai Palisade, 2020 Kia Telluride, 2020 Volkswagen Atlas, 2020 Toyota Highlander and 2020 Subaru Ascent — are all designated as one-tier-lower Top Safety Picks.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Road Test Editor Brian Normile joined the automotive industry and in 2013 and became part of the Editorial staff in 2014. Brian spent his childhood devouring every car magazine he got his hands on — not literally, eventually — and now reviews and tests vehicles to help consumers make informed choices. Someday, Brian hopes to learn what to do with his hands when he’s reviewing a car on camera, and to turn his 2021 Hyundai Veloster N into a tribute to the great Renault mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive hatchbacks. He would daily-drive an Alfa Romeo 4C if he could. Email Brian Normile

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