Both the 2019 Audi Q8 and A6 earned high marks in IIHS crash test ratings, but headlight effectiveness separated them from top honors. The 2019 Q8 walked away with a Top Safety Pick award, while the 2019 A6 and its better-rated headlights earned it a Top Safety Pick+.
More often than not, headlight performance is the defining factor for an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. The highest honor in the crash test goes to vehicles that receive "Good" ratings in all six crash tests, earn a "Superior" rating for crash avoidance features, and nab a "Good" rating for their headlights.
2019 Audi A6
In the A6's case, the top headlights are found in the Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. The headlights also feature automatic high beams unlike the base A6's headlights that earned a "Marginal" rating.
The Q8 also scored "Good" ratings in all six crash tests, which put it on a path toward a Top Safety Pick+ award. The IIHS awarded it a "Superior" rating for crash avoidance features, but the best available best headlight optional on the Premium Plus trim and standard on the Prestige earned an "Acceptable" rating. The Q8's base headlights were dished a "Poor" rating for too much glare from the low beams.
The IIHS found in a study released last year that the best headlight technology is usually locked away in option packages for new car buyers. Of all the cars the IIHS tested in 2018, 43 models only offered "Marginal" or "Poor" rated headlights as the best available units. Those 43 models include some of the best selling vehicles in the U.S., such as the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.