The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) yearly round of vehicle tests has arrived and they have named their latest Top Safety Picks for the year 2021. These honors are awarded after a series of robust examinations of the year’s current slate of new cars, centering their tests on two essential components of road safety: crashworthiness﹘that is, the ability of the car to protect its occupants in the moment of an accident﹘and crash avoidance and mitigation, meaning the ability of the car’s bespoke safety features’ ability to engage properly to avoid a collision.

Regarding the awarding of the Top Safety Picks, the IIHS segregates the vehicles according to size and type. Top Safety Picks (as well as the further, relatively new distinction of Top Safety Pick+) are distinguished as reliable and safe vehicles in a number of different accident scenarios. These scenarios include:

  • Partial head-on collision on driver and passenger side, covering 25% of the total width of the vehicle
  • Head-on collision of a larger, heavier object (i.e. another car), covering 40% of the total width of the vehicle
  • Side collisions, including side-swipes and T-bones, testing deployment of side airbags
  • Rollovers and roof strength

Other criteria include testing systems such as headlights and automatic brakes. The cars; performance in the several tests are ranked on an overall scale of Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor, with some individual systems being deemed Superior, Advanced, and Basic. Below are a few of the most notable winners in each category.

Top Safety Picks

Small Cars

  1. 2021 Honda Insight
    • Top Safety Pick+
    • 4-door Sedan
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: “Good”﹘”Superior” for all systems
  2. 2021 Hyundai Elantra
    • Top Safety Pick
    • 4-door Sedan
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: Mostly “Good”﹘”Superior” with a “Poor” headlight rating and “Acceptable” child LATCH system
  3. 2021 Toyota Carolla
    • Top Safety Pick
    • 4-door Sedan
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: Mostly “Superior” with “Acceptable”﹘”Marginal” headlights.

Midsize SUVs

  1. 2021 Ford Explorer
    • Top Safety Pick+
    • 4-door SUV
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: Mostly “Superior” with “Acceptable” headlights
  2. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
    • Top Safety Pick
    • 4-door SUV
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: All “Superiors” except the headlights with range from “Good” to “Poor”
  3. 2021 Kia Telluride
    • Top Safety Pick
    • 4-door SUV
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: All “Superiors” except the headlights with range from “Good” to “Poor”

Minivans

  1. 2021 Honda Odyssey
    • Top Safety Pick+
    • Minivan
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: Mostly “Superior” with “Acceptable” headlights
  2. 2021 Toyota Sienna
    • Top Safety Pick+
    • Minivan
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: Mostly “Superior” with “Good” headlights

Large Pickups

  1. 2021 Ram 1500
    • Top Safety Pick
    • Large Pickup / Crew Cab Pickup
    • Crashworthiness: “Good” across the board
    • Crash Avoidance: “Superior”﹘”Advanced” with “Good”﹘ “Marginal” headlights

The IIHS’s Top Safety Pics cover nearly all non-commercial vehicle types and their rankings can be found on their website. These cars all represent a sample of the safest cars that one can buy in 2021. Not only will they keep the passengers safe, but with highly-rated safety features they will likely spare the car owners the hassle of having to go the auto repair shop with each love tap and close-call.