In addition to comfort and prestige, a luxury car should provide a safe environment within which to travel through the world. That said, some luxury cars are safer than others. To learn which are the ten safest luxury cars, we consulted the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety to find the ten models scoring highest for safety. The IIHS conducts tests to determine crashworthiness. It also rates frontal crash prevention systems, which warn the driver and/or brake automatically to avoid or mitigate a frontal collision. The vehicles performing the best qualify for Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ status.
The Ten Safest Luxury Cars
To qualify as an IIHS Top Safety Pick +, vehicles must perform well in the IIHS small overlap front crash test in addition to head-on, side, and rollover tests. The small overlap test duplicates hitting another car or a stationary object with one of the front corners of the vehicle. When this happens, crash energy gets distributed unevenly through the car’s structure, making it more likely to intrude into the passenger compartment. Only cars scoring “Good” (the IIHS’s highest ranking from among Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor) and demonstrating the strongest showing in frontal collision prevention are included here.
Frontal Collision Prevention Systems
Frontal collision prevention systems function autonomously to either prevent or mitigate front-to-rear crashes. These typically incorporate a warning function of some sort (usually visual and/or aural, although some incorporate haptic notifications too) in addition to automatic braking to help drivers avoid rear-ending a stopped or slower-moving vehicle or individual. These frontal collision prevention systems will also generally try to stop the car when stationary objects, pedestrians, and in some cases bicyclists, are in imminent danger of being struck.
An Important Caveat
It is important to note, not all manufacturers subject all of their cars to IIHS testing. (Some don’t at all.) For this reason, some cars featuring all of the latest crash prevention gear may not be represented here. Without an independent testing agency quantifying the integrity of the claims for a particular vehicle we can’t in good conscience recommend it. That doesn’t mean cars like the Mercedes S Class, Rolls Royce Phantom, or Bentley Mulsanne aren't safe, it just means nobody’s crash tested them, so we can't say. Thus, these are the ten safest luxury cars tested.
Acura’s flagship model, while not one of the most impressive luxury cars in terms of its appearance, bristles with a wide array of cutting edge technology. Features such as lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitors, proximity sensors, and adaptive cruise control are all offered with the RLX. Antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and a driver’s side knee airbag are included as standard equipment. In addition to the collision prevention systems we spoke of earlier, the Acura also incorporates a rear-view camera system to prevent backing over pedestrians or into other cars.
Photo Credit: Acura
The TLX makes it here with an asterisk because while Acura’s TLX has yet to be formally named to the list as of this writing, we’re confident it will qualify based upon the performance of its predecessor, the 2014 Acura TL. Just like TL, TLX features antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, a rearview camera, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and active front head restraints. Also available are front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot warning system, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning, and automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation.
The new small Audi is one of the safest compact sedans you can buy. The A3’s suite of safety kit incorporates antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front knee airbags, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and optional rear side airbags. The A3 has Audi Pre-Sense for automatic seatbelt tightening and window closing in a potential frontal collision. Its Driver Assistance package includes blind spot monitoring, a rearview camera, and front and rear parking sensor arrays. Order A3 with the Advance Technology package and you’ll add lane-departure warning, frontal collision warning, and frontal collision mitigation with automatic braking.
BMW 2 Series
Proving an engaging experience and outstanding safety features can co-exist, BMW’s 2 Series is both enjoyable to drive and equipped with state of the art protection gear. This includes antilock disc brakes with brake drying and pre-loading, traction control, stability control, and hill-start assist for manual transmission cars. Additionally, the entry-level BMW comes standard with front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and driver/passenger knee airbags. Optional are front and rear parking sensor arrays, a rearview camera, and lane departure warning in addition to frontal collision warning and mitigation. BMW’s 2 Series delivers both fun and advanced safety features.
Hyundai‘s Genesis boasts an outstanding safety quotient. Consider antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active front head rests, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and a driver's knee airbag for openers. There’s also automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, remote start, geo-fencing, and stolen vehicle slow-down/immobilization and recovery. The Genesis can also be equipped with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensor arrays, and an automatic emergency braking system to mitigate the severity of collisions, or prevent low speed collisions altogether.
More than just a pretty face with an exceptionally nice interior, Lincoln’s out to win car buyer’s hearts and minds with one of the safest luxury cars on the road. Standard protection gear for Lincoln MKZ includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera, and a rear parking sensor array. There’s also emergency crash notification, which automatically dials 911 if an airbag deploys. But wait, there’s more; options include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning, brake priming, and inflatable rear seatbelts.
Infiniti is very serious about keeping the Q50 safe. Antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags are standard. Every Q50 runs a rearview camera too. Also in the base price are roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle reporting, and remote door unlocking. Options include an all around camera system, front and rear parking sensor arrays, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning and prevention, along with collision warning and mitigation systems front and rear capable of independently applying braking to stop the car, or at least slow it before impact.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class *
This car is also here with an asterisk because the all-new Mercedes-Benz E Class model expected for 2015 has yet to have been tested. However, given its predecessor was among the best of the best, we have every reason to feel confident the 2015 E Class will, at minimum, maintain status quo (and in all probability surpass it actually). That said, it’s a safe bet the car will get collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, rear collision occupant protection capable of braking the car if it is stationary to prevent secondary collisions, and drowsy driver alert.
Don’t let the handsome styling fool you, Volvo’s passenger cars are the equivalent of rolling bomb shelters when it comes to protecting their occupants in the event of a crash. Standard equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, front-seat side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags. Then, there is the technology Volvo calls City Safety, which is also known as collision mitigation. (Volvo pioneered these systems by the way). Naturally, you can also get a lane departure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a blind-spot warning system, and rear cross traffic alerts.
As you might well imagine, Volvo’s flagship is a veritable fortress of safety features. In addition to its outstanding crash test scores, the car’s passive and active safety equipment includes four antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags with individual chambers for chest and hip protection, a set of side curtain airbags, and Volvo's “City Safety” slow-speed frontal-collision mitigation system. There are also active front headrests. Optional kit includes a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensor arrays, blind spot and lane-departure warning systems, and a driver fatigue monitor. The S80’s City Safety system also looks for pedestrians and bicyclists.