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Mazda Tops Honda, BMW, Volvo In New IIHS 2020 Top Safety Pick Plus Rankings

Mazda tops many notable brands in the new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick Plus rankings. Here's why Mazda is such a standout for safety.

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In its most recent rankings of the safest vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) proves once again that the legacy brands are not safer than mainstream, mass-market and premium brands. Case in point, premium brand Mazda, who outscores the dramatically more expensive brands in the new Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) rankings. Mazda commented on the results. “We are proud to be the top 2020 IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ award recipient. It’s a big accomplishment and stems from our committment to our owners,” said Mazda President Jeff Guyton. “Always keeping our customers in mind, Mazda is dedicated to providing the most advanced safety technologies, giving our customers a more enjoyable and confident driving experience.”

What is TSP+ and Why Does It Matter?
TSP+ is the hardest safety score to earn in the American vehicle market. IIHS continuously makes it more difficult for automakers to achieve its top rating by moving the bar every year or two. While most vehicles today are able to earn scores of Good on most crash tests, that is not nearly enough to earn a TSP+ rating. In addition to scoring Good on every crash test, the vehicle must also have included advanced active safety systems with a top score. Also, headlights must also score at the top of the range. “The headlight ratings that have been part of our awards criteria in recent years have pushed automakers to pay more attention to this essential equipment,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “However, finding vehicles with the right headlights can be a challenge for consumers. We wanted to reward automakers that have removed this obstacle.”

Why Does Mazda Beat Brands Like Subaru, Honda, and Volvo?
One reason that Mazda's crossovers, the CX-3, CX-5, the Mazda6 sedan, and both the Mazda3 Sedan and hatchback all earn the very highest score of TSP+ is they all come standard with headlights that score at the top of the range. IIHS tests headlights not just for effectiveness in multiple scenarios, but also scores them lower if they produce excessive glare. Among the vehicles in its price points, Mazda tends to be alone in equipping its vehicles with adaptive (turning) headlights.

Many notable brands that work hard to create safe vehicles found their models in the second-best bracket. These include the Honda CR-V and Accord and the Volvo XC40. BMW's 3 Series also didn't earn the top score. Compare these models to the Mazda equivalents and it is clear Mazda leads.

Mazda Advanced Active Safety Systems
Mazda’s i-Activsense is a general term covering a series of advanced safety technologies that make use of detection sensors such as milliwave radars and cameras. These include active safety technologies that support safer driving by helping the driver to recognize unsafe conditions and pre-crash safety technologies that help avert collisions or reduce their severity if they cannot be avoided. Mazda’s i-Activsense advanced active safety technologies include Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection, Smart Brake Support with Collision Warning, Smart Brake Support, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go Function, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System with Lane-Keep Assist, Driver Attention Alert, High Beam Control, Adaptive Front-Lighting System, and Traffic Sign Recognition.

Who Else Did Well ?- Subaru
Subaru is a brand that now also leads in Safety. Its Crosstrek Hybrid, Forester, and Outback all earn tops scores. Our Subaru expert, Denis Flierl will has more on Subaru's 2020 safety results here at Torque News.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin.

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