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Last week J.D. Powers’ U.S. Tech Choice Survey reported respondents overwhelmingly said they wanted advanced crash mitigation technologies and it so happens these are required to make the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) list.
Our list culled from the latest IIHS data thus merges two desirable “technologies” – electrified powertrains that save gas and cut emissions as well as crash avoidance systems offering greater chance of personal safety.
Two of the listed vehicles are hybrid variants within broader model ranges that together scored TSP+, but being heavier because of battery and hybrid systems, they may even do slightly better in some kinds of accidents according to IIHS Vice President of Communications Russ Rader.
“All other things being equal, bigger, heavier vehicles are more protective in crashes than smaller, lighter ones,” said Rader. “Similarly, in keeping with the laws of physics, people riding in a hybrid are better protected in a crash than people riding in the same non-hybrid model. Batteries add weight which improves protection in collisions.”
Two Measures of Safety
Each year the IIHS evaluates vehicles for 1) crashworthiness – how well the airbag- and crumple-zone equipped reinforced structure of the vehicle protects in various types of collisions, and 2) crash avoidance and mitigation – systems meant to stop a crash from happening in the first place.
The TSP+ category is the highest acknowledgment the IIHS bestows on vehicles in various size categories. It designates one step above “Top Safety Pick” which requires “good” ratings in five crash tests: moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap front test. Potential ratings are: good, acceptable, marginal, and poor.
Crash avoidance technology can include radar, cameras, automatic braking and more to make the car virtually vigilant in case you are not, or caught off guard – though nothing is foolproof, and never should it be taken as a green light to put down your guard.
As you can tell given that only five green models under $35,000 qualify, it is not available on many cars, but more are expected to get it in years ahead. At this stage many cars with crash avoidance technology tend to be priced higher than our mainstream-ish level cutoff, but there are a growing number of exceptions.
This list of the safest green cars is not a ranking because even authorities do not go so far as to grade a hierarchy of absolute safest, next-safest, and so on. Each car listed is linked to the IIHS original report. You’ll note also this is dominated by Toyota products.
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