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IIHS Announces Large Car Crash Test Results; Three Models Achieve “Top Safety Pick+” Status

IIHS Announces Large Car Crash Test Results; Three Models Achieve “Top Safety Pick+” Status

By Joseph Dobrian, July 06, 2017

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has granted “Top Safety Pick+” (TSP+) designations—the Institute’s highest award—to three large car models: the 2017 Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Toyota Avalon. Three other large car models—the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Impala, and Ford Taurus—also were tested but did not receive the TSP+ award since they each earned an “Acceptable” rating (below the top “Good” rating) in the small overlap front test.

“This group of large cars includes some with stellar ratings, but our small overlap front test remains a hurdle for some vehicles,” said David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.

2017 Lincoln Continental IIHS small overlap frontal crash test photoVehicles qualify for either the “Top Safety Pick” or “Top Safety Pick+” award if they have “Good” ratings in five IIHS crashworthiness tests: small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints. They must also have “Good” or “Acceptable” headlights and must offer (at least as an option) a front crash-prevention system that earns a “Superior” or “Advanced” rating.

The 2017 Continental—an all-new car model with a revived name—replaces the Lincoln MKS for the 2017 model year. When equipped with its optional front crash-prevention system, the vehicle avoided collisions in IIHS track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph. The system also has a forward-collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) criteria.

The Continental’s LED projector headlights—an option on the Reserve trim level—can be obtained with high-beam assist, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams depending on the presence of other vehicles.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class was completely redesigned for 2017. Both its standard and optional front crash-prevention systems earn “Superior” ratings, avoiding collisions in the track tests at both of the above speeds and featuring a forward-collision warning that meets NHTSA criteria.

The Avalon was originally recognized as a “Top Safety Pick” winner (without the + designation), but Toyota improved the aim of the headlights on Avalons built after March to achieve the higher award.

Toyota wasn’t the only company to try to boost its car’s standing with midyear improvements. The Tesla Model S initially had earned an “Acceptable” rating in the small overlap test, which represents the type of crash that occurs when the front driver-side corner of a vehicle hits a tree or utility pole or collides with another vehicle. The main problem with the performance of the Model S was that the safety belt let the dummy’s torso move too far forward, allowing the dummy’s head to strike the steering wheel hard through the air bag.

While the other three large cars all achieved high ratings in some of the safety-related criteria, they did not meet all the conditions required to qualify for the highest award. Tesla’s Model S, the Chevrolet Impala, and the Ford Taurus all earned “Poor” ratings for their headlights.

For complete large car crash test ratings, visit:

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