Not just any Top Safety Pick, but Top Safety Pick+. The '+' matters.
New cars and trucks are safer than ever thanks to strict government-imposed regulations. One doesn't have to shell out more money for a Volvo in order to keep the family safe. That's the good news. The not so good news, for automakers, is that safety crash testing is more rigorous than ever, making it harder to achieve top safety scores.
Today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety puts news vehicles through a series of aggressive crash tests and the findings can be quite interesting. In fact, there was only one non-luxury large car to receive the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation in the most recent round of testing, the results of which were released earlier this month. What is this car? The 2019 Toyota Avalon.
However, only Avalons built after September of this year count. The IIHS awarded the 2019 Avalon 'Good' ratings in all areas tested, including the small overlap front driver-side and passenger-side, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats. For crash avoidance, it actually earned a 'Superior' score for front crash prevention. The Avalon earned top scores in past years, but this is the first time the IIHS has done a full series of tests on the redesigned fifth-generation model. No other non-luxury large sedan can compete right now with the new Avalon in terms of general safety.
But wait? Why isn't the Avalon listed under 'Large Luxury Cars', such as the BMW 5 Series, Genesis G80 and G90, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class?
Likely because the IIHS does not classify Toyota as a luxury brand even though the Avalon is far more premium than ever. If it wore the appropriate badging, it could easily pass itself off as a Lexus. The master list of 2019 Top Safety Pick+ vehicles also revealed something else noteworthy: not one of them come from American automakers, but rather Japanese, Korean, and German ones. Dropping down a level to the 2019 Top Safety Picks (no '+'), the only American vehicle to make the list was the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. If it makes you feel any better, not a single Volvo model qualified for a 2019 award.