The 2013 Honda Civic—in both coupe and sedan body styles—recently became the first small car in America to receive a Top Safety Pick+ Award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), setting the pace in a graduating class that also included the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, 2013 Mazda Mazda6 and 2014 Volvo XC60. Perhaps as importantly, this latest round of testing also shows how quickly automakers have begun adapting to the IIHS’ new evaluations.
The safety-minded amongst us may recall that receiving Top Safety Pick+ recognition requires, as a starting point, the highest possible scores in the Institute’s evaluations from front-, side- and rear-impact scenarios, as well as in a roof-strength test that analyzes occupant protection in rollovers. But that front-impact test involved a “moderate overlap” impact, in which a vehicle strikes an obstacle across 40 percent of its frontal area; garnering the “+” designation also requires vehicles to achieve “good” or “acceptable” ratings in a small-overlap test in which the corner of a vehicle impacts a narrow object like a pole or tree.
2013 Honda Civic: Safety by Design
At this stage, achieving the Top Safety Pick+ status is a surprisingly challenging task, as cars ranging from the Toyota Camry to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class discovered late last year; those players were among the first to undergo Top Safety Pick+ evaluations and—along with entries like the Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata and Audi A4—were tripped up by the small-overlap test. On the other hand, the win for the 2013 Honda Civic isn’t very surprising at all. (See: http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/iihs-announces-first-top-safety-pick-winners-114592/.) Its emergency re-design for the current model year specifically included “the addition of front end structures to help disperse crash energy in narrow overlap frontal crashes … [that] should also help the Civic obtain top marks in the new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety small-overlap frontal crash test.”
As a result, "If you want a compact car with a Top Safety Pick+ rating, the 2013 Honda Civic is the only choice," according to Art St. Cyr, vice president of product planning and logistics at American Honda. "We believe this is a distinct competitive advantage, especially as more and more consumers place a premium on crash rating performance."
But remember, while you do have more choices when it comes to finding a midsize sedan with the IIHS’ new rating, the all-new 2013 Honda Accord—again, in both sedan and coupe configurations—is among them. And that means that Honda currently leads all automakers in the U.S. in terms of Top Safety Pick+ winners, with four—or five if you count the 2013 Acura TL.