The Safest Cars on the Road in 2021

By Lesley Green
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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety selects the safest of the safest vehicles for 2021.

  • 50 vehicles awarded the Top Safety Pick+ endorsement
  • More awards handed out this year than in years past
  • Winners range from small cars and SUVs to minivans and a pickup truck

There’s a lot to consider when buying a new vehicle: reliability, fuel efficiency, your budget, and auto insurance rates, to name just a few. For many drivers, however, the safety rating is what makes or breaks the car buying decision. In the face of a collision (or avoiding one), some vehicles are safer than others. Every year, the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recognizes the vehicles that perform best in a bad situation.

“With these awards, we want to make it easy for consumers to find vehicles that provide good protection in crashes, sufficient lighting and effective front crash protection,” IIHS President David Harkey says in a press release. “Manufacturers have stepped up to meet the challenge, and the list of great options has grown to an impressive size this year.”

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The IIHS awards have two tiers. There’s the Top Safety Pick+ and the Top Safety Pick (minus the ‘plus’). Regardless of tier, vehicles must garner ‘good’ ratings in all six IIHS crashworthiness tests to be selected. The winners must also be available with front crash prevention that earns a superior or advanced rating in tests to avoid a collision with another vehicle or with a pedestrian.

Headlights are the final consideration, and winners must be available with headlights deemed good or acceptable by the IIHS. The ‘plus’ designation is given to models that have good or acceptable headlights across all trim levels and packages – it's not an optional add-on; these headlights come standard with the vehicle.

Let’s start first with the 25 cars with the plus and 18 cars minus the plus.

IIHS 2021 Top Safety Pick+ Winners: Small, Midsize, and Large Cars

Small cars Midsize cars Midsize luxury cars Large luxury cars
Honda Insight Honda Accord Acura TLX Audi A6
Mazda 3 hatchback Kia 5 Lexus ES 350 Audi A6 Allroad
Mazda 3 Mazda 6 Lexus IS Audi A7
Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Nissan Altima Tesla Model 3 Genesis G70
Nissan Maxima Volvo S60 Genesis G90
Subaru Legacy Volvo S60 Recharge
Subaru Outback Volvo V60
Toyota Camry Volvo V60 Recharge

IIHS 2021 Top Safety Pick Winners: Small, Midsize, and Large Cars

Small cars Midsize cars Midsize luxury cars Large cars
Honda Civic hatchback Hyundai Sonata Audi A4 Kia Stinger
Honda Civic Audi A5 Sportback
Hyundai Veloster BMW 3 series
Kia Forte Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Kia Soul
Nissan Sentra
Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru Impreza wagon
Subaru Impreza
Subaru WRX
Toyota Corolla hatchback
Toyota Corolla

IIHS 2021 Top Safety Pick+ Winners: Small, Midsize, and Large SUVs and Minivans

Small SUVs Midsize SUVs Midsize luxury SUVs Large SUVs Minivans
Mazda CX-3 Ford Explorer Acura RDX Audi e-tron Honda Odyssey
Mazda CX-30 Hyundai Palisade Cadillac XT6 Audi e-tron Sportback Toyota Sienna
Mazda CX-5 Mazda CX-9 Genesis GV80
Nissan Rogue Subaru Ascent Hyundai Nexo
Subaru Forester Toyota Highlander Lexus NX
Volvo XC40 Mercedes-Benz GLE
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC60 Recharge
Volvo XC90
Volvo XC90 Recharge

IIHS 2021 Top Safety Pick Winners: Small, Midsize, and Large SUVs and One Pickup

Small SUVs Midsize SUVs Midsize luxury SUVs Large SUVs Large pickup
Chevrolet Equinox Ford Edge Lexus RX Audi Q8 Ram 1500 Crew
Ford Escape Kia Sorento Lincoln Aviator
Honda CR-V Kia Telluride Mercedes-Benz GLC
Hyundai Kona Volkswagen Tiguan
Hyundai Tucson
Hyundai Venue
Kia Seltos
Kia Sportage
Lexus UX
Lincoln Corsair
Toyota C-HR
Toyota RAV4
Toyota RAV4 Prime
Toyota Venza

Safety plus savings: Compare insurance quotes for the vehicle that offers you both

Safety and savings can go hand-in-hand. If you’re in the market to buy one of the IIHS’s safest vehicles, compare auto insurance quotes first. The cost of coverage can vary significantly, and with the right provider, you can have a vehicle that is not only safe on the road but doesn't cost a lot to insure either.