The Car Connection’s Safest New Vehicles of 2020

April 22, 2020

New cars are safer than ever before. Fatal crashes are fewer, while miles traveled on American roadways are higher than ever before. Most new cars are equipped with vital life-saving equipment such as automatic emergency braking, and many can be equipped with even more new tech that can prevent crashes from happening. 

This year, the IIHS toughened the criteria for earning a coveted Top Safety Pick award. Among the tougher guidelines, the IIHS now tests pedestrian detection systems included with automatic emergency braking systems. Even though traffic fatalities are declining, pedestrian fatalities are rising.

This tougher criteria affects The Car Connection’s safety rating, as well. From a base score of 5, points are awarded or taken away for crash-test scores, safety equipment, outward vision, and available options. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Netting a perfect 10 on our safety scale is hard to do, and only three cars made the dean’s list for 2020. But nearly 30 vehicles earned a 9 on our scale, which is the most we can remember. 

Here are our top picks for the safest vehicles of 2020, starting with the 10s.

2020 Lincoln Continental

2020 Lincoln Continental

2020 Lincoln Continental

Everything that’s old is new again applies to the Continental and its semi-retro design and its superlative safety rating. The full-size sedan demonstrates that you don’t need a tall-riding SUV to be safe, and the outward vision from the posh seats is expansive. 

It was a 2019 TSP+ in Black Label trim or Reserve trim with the Luxury package or LED Headlight package, and it earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA.

Base models come with adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high beam headlights, while Reserve and higher trims add a surround-view camera system, active parking assist, and other features.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Luxury vehicles typically don’t get destroyed in the name of safety, but the E-Class has wide appeal and top safety marks. 

The base E-Class sedan was a 2019 TSP+ when equipped with LED projector headlights on the Premium II or III package. The headlights on base models were rated “Acceptable,” which is relatively good. The NHTSA also gave the sedan five stars.

Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and other features that mitigate the effects of a collision. Optional safety features range from adaptive cruise control that restarts from a stop to automatically adjusting speed based on posted speed limits. 

2020 Subaru Legacy 

2020 Subaru Legacy - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 Subaru Legacy - Best Car To Buy 2020

Arguably the most overlooked Subaru is also one of the safest from the brand that has keyed in on safety across the board. Nearly every 2020 Subaru earned at least a TSP award from the IIHS. The mid-size sedan earned a TSP+ not and five-star rating from federal testers, and comes standard with EyeSight, which includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors and rear automatic emergency braking cost more. 

The 2020 Forester, Outback, and Ascent crossover SUVs all share these traits, but the outward vision front and rear is better in the Legacy, which is why it gets a perfect score.

Honorable mentions (best of the 9s):

2020 Volvo XC90

2020 Volvo XC90

2020 Volvo XC90

The 2020 Volvo XC90 earned a TSP award that we expect will carry over once the headlights get re-tested for 2020. It also earned five stars overall from the NHTSA, including a four-star rating on the rollover test, which is typical for SUVs. 

The standard safety tech puts it at the top of the class, with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, road sign recognition, and rear collision mitigation. It also comes with Volvo’s Pilot Assist driver-assistance system as standard equipment.

The only knock is the rear vision due to thick rear pillars, which is also common in SUVs.

2020 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride - Best Car To Buy 2020

2020 Kia Telluride - Best Car To Buy 2020

One of the hottest vehicles of 2020, the Kia Telluride three-row crossover SUV proves you can be sexy while being safe. It has all the stuff, earns the highest crash ratings and a TSP award for top SX models equipped with certain headlights, but suffers from what impairs other large SUVs: poor rear vision. The related 2020 Hyundai Palisade rates the same. 

Every 2020 Telluride comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and the system can read road markings to automatically change lanes. And it has luxury-like options. 

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

Like Subaru, nearly every Mazda model earned at least a TSP award from the IIHS, making it one of the safest brands due to top crash-test results and good standard active safety features. 

The 2020 Mazda 6 mid-size sedan comes with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors. It’s an IIHS TSP+ thanks to LED headlights rated “Good” on Signature and Grand Touring Reserve trims. Headlights on other trims were “Acceptable.” Options include a bright head-up display, but the low-slung sedan doesn’t have the best outward vision on the sides.  

2020 Honda Ridgeline

2020 Honda Ridgeline

2020 Honda Ridgeline

We’ll call out the Ridgeline here as the highest ranking mid-size pickup truck, but safety kudos also apply to the Accord and Insight sedans, as well as the CR-V compact crossover. 

In addition to having automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control as standard equipment, the 2020 Ridgeline earned an overall five-star rating from the NHTSA and a TSP award from the IIHS. The base headlights were rated at “Poor,” but the RTL-E and Black Edition models were “Good.” Decent optional equipment seals the deal on the 9. 

2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Toyota Camry

Like the Corolla and the Prius, the 2020 Camry mid-size sedan earns a 9 based in part on standard adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and active lane control. It earned five stars from the NHTSA and a TSP+ award from the IIHS, but most versions came with headlights rated “Acceptable.”

The only knock is the somewhat limited rear vision, but optional blind-spot monitors and surround-view camera system ameliorate that.

Other models that earned a TCC Safety Rating of 9 include:

2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, Ascent

2020 BMW 3-Series, 5-Series, X3

2020 Audi A4, Q3

2020 Ford Edge, Escape

2020 Nissan Altima, Maxima 

2020 Cadillac XT6

2020 Genesis G80

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Lexus ES 

2020 Lincoln Corsair

2020 Tesla Model 3


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