Both models are among the 33 models to have achieved the highest 2015 Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) nod from the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), one of the two major testing agencies for new cars in the U.S. And they stand as proof that crash tests do drive improvements in occupant protection, and that those improvements don’t have to come every five or six years—the typical gap in the auto industry between full vehicle redesigns.
Increasingly, as models and their underlying structures are completely redesigned, more cars are performing well in the IIHS small overlap test, which became a real differentiator between the safest and the rest when it was first introduced in 2012.
Real structural upgrades earn top ratings for CR-V, Prius V
But automakers have caught on quickly. The IIHS points to Honda, and its much-improved 2015 CR-V, which was given some structural changes as part of a mid-cycle refresh, boosting its small overlap rating from ‘marginal’ to ‘good.’
2015 Toyota Prius VEnlarge Photo
The 2015 Toyota Prius V is also one of the most improved models without a complete redesign. Toyota improved this Prius tall wagon’s small overlap performance from ‘poor’ to ‘good’ with some structural changes, and by lengthening the side-curtain airbags. That model was also given some significant improvements to its optional Pre-Collision System, which the IIHS had previously panned with “doesn’t meet minimum criteria.”
Which leads to the second important point: The safest new vehicles today are the ones that won’t just keep you and your family safe in a crash; they’re also the ones that will warn you and help brake—and maybe help you avoid an accident altogether.
The IIHS understands that, and the group now requires an even more effective front crash prevention system for a model to make its annual list of Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) winners for 2015.
‘Basic’ front crash avoidance no longer good enough
While last year the IIHS required Top Safety Pick+ models to have a collision warning system that met its minimum standards—denoted by the ‘basic’ grade—this year automatic-braking capability is required, with a score of ‘advanced’ or ‘superior.’
Vehicles that meet the ‘advanced’ or ‘superior’ standards for front crash prevention—and that of course includes the Prius V and CR-V—can be equipped with a system that stops or slows the vehicle, to help lessen the severity of an accident or avoid it completely.
Despite this key tightening of the rules for 2015, there’s currently a total of 33 TSP+ vehicles; that’s eleven more this year than last year.