The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has implemented a new test to rate the performance of front crash prevention systems. For the new program, the IIHS will rate all models with optional or standard front crash prevention systems based on if they offer autonomous braking and how effective it is. The tests are conducted at 12 and 25 miles per hour, and each vehicle is given a rating of Superior, Advanced, or Basic.
The IIHS says tests like these help customers better figure out which vehicle to buy based off these features. “Front crash prevention systems can add a thousand dollars or more to the cost of a new car. Our new ratings let consumers know which systems offer the most promise for the extra expense,” said David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, in a statement. Along with the customer benefits, the tests encourage more automakers to adopt this new technology if they haven’t already.
To score a Basic rating, the vehicles forward collision warning must meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) criteria, which requires the system to warn the driver before a certain amount of time in 5 out of the 7 test trials under three different scenarios.
The first vehicles to be tested included midsize sedans, luxury sedans, and SUVs, with a total of 74 vehicles. Only seven earned a Superior rating, including the Cadillac ATS and SRX, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Subaru Legacy and Outback, and the Volvo S60 and XC60. Those that received an Advanced rating included the 2014 Acura MDX, Audi A4 and Q5, 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus ES, and 2014 Mazda6.
The IIHS conducted five tests at different speeds to more accurately determine how different systems performed. For each test, the vehicle would be driven toward a stationary object to simulate another vehicle. Sensors in each vehicle monitored speed, lane position, time to collision, and braking. Points were awarded to how each system responded and slowed the vehicle to avoid an accident. To get a Superior rating, 4 to 5 points were needed, and only 1 to 3 points were needed to get an Advanced rating.
This new test has changed the criteria to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating. For 2013, a vehicle had to have a Good or Acceptable score for the new small overlap front crash test, along with Good ratings for the other tests. For the new year, vehicles need to have either a standard or optional front crash prevention system to qualify. Only those vehicles with a Basic, Advanced, or Superior crash prevention score are able to qualify for a Top Safety Pick+ rating. Winners of this award will be announced this December.