Everyone worries about getting a car which will keep them safe.
Seeing a particularly bad accident on the road is a stark reminder of the danger we could all potentially be in at any given moment. Having a car designed to not only help you avoid accidents but also give you the best chances of walking away from a crash is ideal.
To be honest, some brands produce more cars that outperform their competitors when it comes to safety. The Insurance Institute for Safety or IIHS tests cars every model year in a number of key areas, including numerous crash scenarios, emergency braking, and even headlight performance.
Cars which performed well in most of the tests earned a Top Safety Pick rating. The highest ranking from IIHS, Top Safety Pick+, was reserved for only those models which did exceptionally well in all areas. Based on the results of IIHS tests for the 2019 model year, the following are the top five safest car brands.
It’s not much of a surprise to see Toyota on this list. While it didn’t exactly dominate with two Top Safety Pick+ awards, the Japanese automaker has a solid history of making cars that perform well in safety tests.
Two Toyota models earned the second-highest ranking from IIHS, Top Safety Pick. They were the Toyota Corolla 4-door Hatchback and the Highlander SUV.
As one of the more affordable Toyotas in Canada right now, the Corolla Hatchback has a lot going for it. The utilitarian design makes the small car quite practical. On the safety end of things, the Corolla Hatchback is the first Toyota to use Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. There are several big upgrades to the suite of driver aids, like a pre-collision system which can detect a bicycle better in broad daylight as well as spot pedestrians in dim lighting.
Lexus, the luxury line from Toyota scored a Top Safety Pick+ ranking for the ES sedan. Like the Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the Lexus ES sedan features the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, which introduces some upgrades to the suite of assistive technologies. Among them is all-speed dynamic radar cruise control and lane tracing assist, which will still keep you in your lane when the lines are temporarily not visible.
Three Mercedes-Benz vehicles earned Top Safety Pick+ ratings from IIHS for 2019. The first was the 2019 E-Class sedan. Considering the four-door is often a showcase of the automaker’s advanced technologies and designs, that’s not a surprise.
For example, the E-Class has a new Pre-Safe Sound system. When it detects and impending collision, a “pink noise” comes out of the sound system speakers as a way to pre-trigger your ears’ natural defenses against the kinds of loud noises you’re subjected to during an accident. Like other modern cars, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class uses cameras and other sensors to detect threats all around, plus it uses an Attention Assist camera to ensure you’re not driving while drowsy.
Two SUV models, the Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE-Class, also landed in the Top Safety Pick+ rankings. These two both pack some serious safety technologies, including an in-cluster display which provides safety alerts and updates, so you can avoid collisions more seamlessly.
Earning a Top Safety Pick award was the Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4-door sedan. One of the most popular models for the Mercedes-Benz brand, this is an important victory for the company. To help with its ranking, the C-Class now features standard multi-element LED headlamps to boost forward visibility at night an in inclement weather conditions.
With four Top Safety Pick+ awards, Hyundai is one of the safest car brands for 2019. The smallest award-winner from the brand, the 2019 Elantra, was able to squeeze into a crowded small cars category. The car was able to accomplish this ranking when equipped with the optional Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist plus upgraded LED headlights.
The larger Hyundai Sonata also earned that top honor from IIHS. Packing an impressive array of safety features like seven standard airbags, rear cross-traffic warning, and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, it’s no wonder the car did well in IIHS tests. It also uses the Hyundai Superstructure, which contains advanced high strength steel forged in-house by Hyundai, providing excellent protection in a crash. If that’s not enough, the optional driver attention warning system constantly monitors for symptoms of your being tired behind the wheel, encouraging you with audible and visual alerts to take a break from driving.
When it comes to SUVs, both the Hyundai Kona and Hyundai Santa Fe snagged Top Safety Pick+ awards. While the Santa Fe comes with many of the same safety features as the Sonata, it takes things a few steps further. A new safe exit assist system, which is a first in the automotive industry, automatically locks the rear doors temporarily when sensors detect a car or bike approaching from the rear. It’s a way to protect younger passengers from being hit as they’re exiting the SUV. Another measure to help with small passengers is the optional rear occupant alert. Ultrasonic sensors monitor the rear seats, triggering reminders in the vehicle and through your phone to check the backseat.
That wasn’t all the safety awards for Hyundai, which also had six models earn Top Safety Pick rankings. They were the Hyundai Accent, Elantra GT, Ioniq Hybrid, Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid, Tucson, and Santa Fe XL. To have so many models included in these two exclusive safety rankings shows that Hyundai is serious about pushing safety, despite it being a value-proposition brand. It just goes to prove you don’t need to spend boatloads of money to genuinely be safe while traveling.
It’s worth mentioning that Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis, was able to grab three Top Safety Pick+ awards for 2019. That’s especially impressive since there are only three Genesis models, demonstrating the brand strives for and achieves excellence in safety.
Outranking sister brand Hyundai, Kia scored five Top Safety Pick+ ratings for the 2019 model year. That’s quite impressive, showing that just like Hyundai, the Korean automaker places a high emphasis on designing cars that protect drivers and passengers alike.
Three models, the Kia Forte, Niro Hybrid, and Niro Plug-In Hybrid, landed in the small cars category. While it’s an affordable compact car, the Forte can be packed with all kinds of assistive technologies you’d expect in more expensive options. Among the options is blind spot detection, lane keeping assist, smart cruise control, and forward collision-avoidance assist.
One more car, the midsize Kia Optima, also earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation. It comes with many of the same advanced safety technologies available for the Forte, plus a 360-degree camera monitoring system. It’s a great feature to use when parking, because it provides a top-down view of the area immediately surrounding the car, taking the guesswork out of not hitting anything or anyone.
The Kia Sorento, a midsize SUV, was the fifth Top Safety Pick+ vehicle from the brand. You can add dynamic headlights, boosting forward visibility when going through curves in the road. As the steering wheel turns, the headlight beams actually pivot, ensuring the pathway where you’re actually going will be illuminated. This is an especially helpful feature when traveling through canyon areas at night.
Three additional Kia models earned the Top Safety Pick designation from IIHS: the Kia Rio, Soul, and Cadenza.
With an amazing seven models grabbing Top Safety Pick+ ratings from IIHS, Subaru also claims the crown as the safest car brand for 2019. That virtually guarantees that no matter which model you’re looking at the from the company, you will get a vehicle with a solid safety reputation.
Among those Top Safety Pick+ models is the all-new Subaru Ascent. Because the three-row SUV is aimed squarely at families, it’s really no surprise it would be built to provide the latest and greatest in safety. First off, it’s built on the new Subaru Global Platform, which was designed to lead the way in not only handling dynamics but also strength. That means in an accident, it can hold up under some seriously rough forces.
Reverse automatic braking doesn’t just detect when you’re about to back into something, it actually stops the SUV to avoid any contact. Add to that the EyeSight advanced driver assist technology, which comes standard on all Ascent models. Two forward-facing cameras monitor activity on the road ahead, warning of possible dangers and helping you as the driver in other ways, like keeping the SUV centered in its lane.
Subaru likes to highlight that this technology has received the highest possible ratings for front-crash prevention from IIHS, demonstrating that it actually works to prevent crashes.
Both the Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon also grabbed a Top Safety Pick+ rating. Of course, this car has a long-standing reputation for earning top rankings from IIHS. According to Subaru, the current generation of the Impreza is the strongest and most advanced yet, which is key to its success. Among the impressive optional equipment is a high beam assist, which automatically switches between low and high beams depending on if oncoming traffic is detected. The available blind spot detection system doesn’t just warn when a car is in the next lane but out of your view, it also indicates if another car is approaching quickly in the next lane over, so you don’t transition into that lane and get into an accident.
If you want a small yet rugged Subaru, the Crosstrek has been given the stamp of approval from IIHS with a Top Safety Pick+ rating. The Crosstrek shares many designs with the Impreza, so it’s no wonder the car has been ranked so well.
For an upgraded yet still quite safe Subaru experience, you can also go with the Outback or Legacy. Subaru designed the Outback with high seat positions, small A-pillars, and plenty of large windows so you as the driver can see incredibly well. Both of these cars feature the vehicle dynamics control system, which is constantly monitoring for any signs of instability. By adjusting torque distribution through the all-wheel-drive system, plus manipulating engine output and selectively applying individual brakes, the system can correct any problem automatically. You just enjoy solid handling dynamics, which is key to avoiding accidents.
The final Top Safety Pick+ rating for Subarus went to the WRX, proving that staying safe doesn’t have to mean not having any fun. Not only does the car boast a powerful engine, the anti-lock braking system is also quite potent. If you choose the Sport-tech RS trim, the car uses Jurid brake pads which are designed to not only increase stopping power but also to combat brake fade. Three driver-selectable vehicle dynamics control settings ensure you can have plenty of fun on pavement or dirt, while still enjoying the best in safety when traveling on public roads with everyone else. Add to that active torque vectoring, which eliminates the annoying and potentially dangerous oversteer and understeer.
One Subaru model earned a Top Safety Pick for 2019, the Forester. It missed the top ranking because of lackluster performance with the headlights. In other words, if you really love the Forester and want to buy one, it still should be an exceptionally safe option. You can even get it with the advanced Subaru DriverFocus system. A camera pointed at you works with facial recognition software to monitor for signs of being fatigued or distracted while behind the wheel. Whenever either dangerous scenario is detected, the system will issue an alert to let you know action is necessary.