New Toyota Highlander, Audi Q7 earn Top Safety Pick Plus ratings

New Toyota Highlander, Audi Q7 earn Top Safety Pick Plus ratings

The 2016 Toyota Highlander and 2017 Audi Q7 have both earned Top Safety Pick+ awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The qualification criteria have tightened for 2016, requiring a ‘good’ rating in all five crash scenarios. The vehicle also must be offered with a front crash prevention system, which must be rated ‘advanced’ or ‘superior’ to be considered for Top Safety Pick+ status.

The Highlander has received structural revisions specifically designed to perform better in the small-overlap test. The 2015 model received an ‘acceptable’ rating, good enough for the Top Safety Pick category last year. It would have been disqualified in 2016, however, due to the more stringent requirements.

“During the test of the 2016 Highlander, the dummy’s movement was better controlled than in the test of the earlier model,” the IIHS noted. “The head hit the front airbag, which stayed in front of the dummy until rebound. In contrast, the dummy in the previous test slid off the airbag’s left side.”

The organization does not routinely test large SUVs, however Audi nominated the Q7 for Top Safety Pick+ and paid for the crash-test vehicles. The Q7 earned ‘good’ ratings in each scenario and a ‘superior’ mark for its automatic emergency braking (AEB) system.

Toyota and its Lexus luxury division led the first wave of 2016 crash tests, with nine vehicles qualifying for Top Safety Pick+. Honda was second on the list with eight winners, followed by Volkswagen/Audi and Subaru.

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