The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on Thursday released its Top Safety Pick awards for 2022, which ranks cars based on crash tests, crash prevention systems with other vehicles and pedestrians, and how well the headlights work.

To qualify for an award, a car must earn six good ratings on crash tests from “driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, original side, roof strength, and head restraint tests.”

Cars must also earn an advanced to superior rating with crash prevention systems for multiple vehicle and vehicle-pedestrian crashes. A good to acceptable rating on at least one headlight system is also required to qualify for a Top Safety Pick award.

Top Safety Pick+ Award Recipients

Sixty-five cars qualified for a 2022 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, including the Honda Civic hatchback sedan, Honda Insight, Mazda 3 hatchback sedan, and Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid in the small cars category.

For mid-size cars, the Honda Accord, Kia K5, Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, and Toyota Camry were included among Pick+ award recipients. Mid-size luxury cars including the Acura TLX, Lexus ES 350, Lexus IS, Tesla Model 3, Volvo S60 and the Recharge, and Volvo V60 Cross Country were also listed.

Only one large car was awarded an IIHS Pick+ award -- the Kia Stinger. Large luxury car recipients include the Audi A6, Audi A6 Allroad, Audi A7, Genesis G70 (built after June 2021), Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Mercedes-Benz E-Class (with optional front crash prevention).

Small SUVs that made the cut for an IIHS Pick+ award were the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Bronco Sport, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Mazda CX-30, Mitsubishi Outlander (built after June 2021), Nissan Rogue, Volvo C40 Recharge, and Volvo XC40 and Recharge.

IIHS Pick+ awards going to mid-size SUVs included the Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade, Hyundai Santa Fe (built after July 2021), Mazda CX-9, Nissan Murano, Subaru Ascent, Total Highlander, and Volkswagen ID.4.

The mid-size luxury SUV category saw the most vehicles qualify for Pick+ -- Acura MDX, Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Audi Q5 Sportback, Cadillac XT6, Genesis GV70, Genesis GV80, Hyundai Next, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (with optional front crash prevention), Tesla Model Y, Volvo XC60 and Recharge, Volvo XC90 and Recharge.

Two large SUVs qualified for a Pick+ award from IIHS -- the Audi E-Tron and Audi E-Tron Sportback. Three minivans also qualified, including the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna.

What To Expect In 2023

This year there were 101 winners of both the low-tier and high-tier Top Safety Pick awards compared to only 90 last year. The IIHS has also made it clear that updates to what qualifies a vehicles as a Top Safety Pick, or Pick+, need to be updated.

"A key reason vehicles have continued to get safer over the more than 25 years since the Institute began our ratings program is that we have never shied away from raising the bar. The high number of Top Safety Pick+ winners shows that it’s time to push for additional changes,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

“New cars should offer strong protection in a crash, but in 2022, that’s the bare minimum,” William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports, agreed with Harkey. “It’s vital for cars to also come standard with safety technology that’s effective at preventing a crash in the first place.”

As a result, two new evaluations will be added to the criteria for 2023: an updated side test and a new nighttime pedestrian crash test (73% of pedestrian crashes are at night). IIHS also announced that vehicles with standard good or acceptable headlights in all trims and packages are the only vehicles that will be eligible to receive awards in the headlights category.

“By making standards more demanding over time, IIHS and Consumer Reports push automakers to continually improve vehicle safety, and we give well-deserved accolades to those that step up,” Wallace added.