CARS.COM -- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced that 48 model-year 2016 vehicles have earned the agency's Top Safety Pick Plus award, its highest designation; 13 earned the Top Safety Pick award. Highlights include newbies like the Scion iA subcompact sedan and the redesigned Honda Pilot SUV.
The number of cars that earned the designation is down this year because the qualifications are tougher for 2016. Previously, vehicles with an acceptable small overlap rating could qualify for either award if all other crash test scores were good. This year, both awards require good ratings in all crash tests as well as an available front crash prevention system. The 48 winners of the plus award have a superior- or advanced-rated front crash prevention system with automatic braking capabilities; the vehicles with a basic-rated front crash prevention system, which typically only issues a warning and doesn't brake, qualify for Top Safety Pick status.
IIHS says that more than 20 winners of the 2015 Top Safety Pick award and four plus-award winners don't qualify under the 2016 criteria. Cars that are missing from this year's list include the Toyota Highlander and Sienna; they're available with an advanced-rated autobrake system, but have less-than-good ratings in the small overlap front test.
Many vehicles on the 2016 Top Safety Pick Plus list have been redesigned or refreshed this year. For example, the 2016 Nissan Maxima and 2016 Volkswagen Passat both earned good ratings in the small overlap front test, an upgrade from last year's acceptable score. Meanwhile, other vehicles like the Toyota Avalon and RAV4 got a front crash prevention system with emergency automatic braking functionality for 2016. The new system's superior rating bumped the two vehicles to Top Safety Pick Plus status.
Click here for the full list of vehicles.