The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts some of the most rigorous crash testing of any non-governmental agency in the world. The models faring best in the Institute’s testing are awarded the title of Top Safety Pick. To qualify, a vehicle must earn a “Good” rating (the IIHS’s highest) in moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests, as well as a “Good” or “Acceptable” (the second highest) rating in the small overlap front test. To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must meet the Top Safety Pick criteria, plus earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention. Top Safety Pick+ winners with optional front crash prevention qualify for the higher award only when equipped with the technology. However, when not so equipped, they still meet the criteria for Top Safety Pick. The following vehicles are among the cheapest Top Safety Pick+ models for 2016.
The Cheapest IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Cars For 2016
To get the advanced safety features qualifying the Chrysler 200 as one of the cheapest Top Safety Pick+ cars for 2016, you’ll have to order the SafetyTec Package. This will outfit your 200 with a blind spot warning system with rear cross traffic alerts, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, along with a forward collision warning system capable of automatically initiating braking if you fail to react to an impending collision. Chrysler 200C pricing starts at $26,625; the SafetyTec package adds $1,295.
The Mazda CX-5 offers blind spot and rear cross traffic warning systems along with Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support system, which detects stationary objects in front of the vehicle. When traveling at speeds up to 19 mph, if you don’t respond to a warning the CX-5 automatically applies the brakes. The CX-5 also features adaptive cruise control, Smart Brake Support (to permit automatic braking from higher speeds than the City system), lane departure warning, and automatic high-beam control. To get all of these features, you’ll order the $28,220 Grand Touring trim with the $1,500 iActivsense package.
The Mazda Mazda3 S Grand Touring offers a $2,600 Technology Package for the five-door hatchback, which includes a lane departure warning system, forward collision warning and Mazda's Smart City Brake Support, a forward collision mitigation system that can automatically brake the car to a stop at low speeds if the driver doesn't react to an imminent collision. Touring and Grand Touring models offer blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alerts as part of the trim package. The 3 S Grand Touring Hatchback starts at $26,495.
To qualify as one of the cheapest Top Safety Pick+ models for 2016, the Mazda6 must be ordered with either the Touring or the Grand Touring trim package. This gets Mazda's Smart City Brake Support frontal collision mitigation system, which can automatically brake the car to a stop at low speeds if a collision is impending (optional with the Mazda6 Touring and standard with Grand Touring). The Grand Touring’s optional GT Technology package adds forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems. Mazda6 Touring starts at $23,495, Grand Touring starts at $30,195, and the GT Technology package adds $2,180.
Photo Credit: Mitsubishi
The most affordable way to get all of the advanced safety technologies afforded the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is to go with Outlander SEL and order the Advanced Safety package. This will net you one of the cheapest Top Safety Pick+ cars for 2016, with automatic headlights, automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking. These features can also be ordered for the Outlander GT as part of the GT touring package. Outlander SEL starts at $24,995; the safety package adds $1,550. Outlander GT starts at $30,995; the Touring package adds $3,350.
Photo Credit: Megan Green
The cheapest of the cheapest top safety pick+ cars for 2016 is the all-new Scion iA, which offers frontal collision alert with automatic braking as a standard feature alongside the usual ABS, front-seat side airbags and front, rear and side curtain airbags, traction and stability control. It should be noted, however, that the iA uses rear drum brakes. Pricing starts at $17,595.
With the 2016 Subaru Impreza, a rearview camera is standard on all models, while adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking, and lane departure warning are available as a package on the 2.0i Sport Limited. Pricing for the Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited starts at $23,295. The advanced safety features are bundled into the incredibly named Moonroof + Navigation System + EyeSight + Keyless Access & Pushbutton Start package, which costs $2,795.
To make our list of the cheapest Top Safety Pick+ cars for 2016, Subaru’s flagship Legacy sedan offers the marque’s EyeSight advanced safety package as an option—starting with the $24,940 2.5i and its Premium trim package. EyeSight includes blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and pre-collision braking, along with lane departure and sway warnings. Additional EyeSight features include lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and detection, rear cross traffic alert, steering-responsive fog lights, and side-mirror-integrated turn signal repeaters. The package adds $1,195 to the price of the 2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium.
Subaru XV Crosstrek
The sporty little Subaru XV Crosstrek is an extremely popular model for the company that specializes in all-wheel drive. The marque’s EyeSight advanced safety package is offered with the Premium and Limited XV Crosstrek models for $1,295. Features include blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and pre-collision braking; lane departure and sway warnings; lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and detection; rear cross traffic alert; steering-responsive fog lights; and side-mirror-integrated turn signal repeaters. XV Crosstrek 2.0i Premium pricing starts at $22,295; Limited pricing starts at $24,795.
The best-selling sedan in America, year in and year out, also offers one of the most sophisticated driver-assistance packages in its price range—making it one of the cheapest Top Safety Pick+ cars for 2016. Camry’s Technology Package can be ordered as an option with the XLE trim, and it's bundled with the Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. Safety-oriented features of the $4,950 bundle include a blind spot warning system paired with a rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and collision mitigation to automatically apply the brakes if necessary. The Camry XLE starts at $26,310.
An all-new 2016 Prius was recently revealed. While full trim and package details have yet to be announced, we have been told the new Prius will be the first model to implement Toyota Safety Sense—a new multi-feature advanced safety package anchored by automated pre-collision braking. Other features include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, and automatic high beams. Pricing has yet to be announced. However, we do know Toyota plans to offer the Safety Sense system in all of its cars by 2017.
With its family orientation, you’d expect the Toyota Highlander to offer a full suite of the latest in safety technologies, and it does. To get the advanced features qualifying Highlander as one of the cheapest Top Safety Pick+ models, opt for the Highlander Limited Platinum or better. This includes rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, lane departure alert, and the pre-collision system as well as dynamic cruise control. Highlander Limited Platinum starts at $44,140. It should be noted that blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are offered on the $40,190 Highlander Limited as well. Keep in mind, though, it is collision mitigation that qualifies a model for Top Safety Pick+ status.
While not the first front-wheel-drive hatchback ever offered, VW’s Golf has certainly been the most successful. Standard advanced safety features include a post-crash braking system to automatically apply the brakes after a crash to prevent secondary incidents. The Driver’s Assistance package is available for the Golf SE, which starts at $26,045. The $1,495 package features forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and lane departure warning. Additionally, the Golf’s parking steering assistant and park distance control guide you into parking spaces, while adaptive cruise control keeps you at a preset distance from the car ahead.
Volkswagen’s Jetta offers a Driver’s Assistance package with the SEL trim (or higher); pricing starts at $23,650. The $950 package includes forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. You’ll also get VW’s Car Net telematics system, which incorporates automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location, and geo-fencing (which allows owners to set boundaries for alternate drivers like teens, valets, or anyone else you’d like to keep a leash on when you entrust them with the car). The Jetta’s CarNet smartphone app lets you implement those functions remotely.