Earlier today the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its list of 2017 nameplates that meet its Top Safety Pick + and Top Safety Pick standards.

1959 Chevrolet Bel Air post 40% offset frontal crash with a 2009 Malibu

Automotive awards

Automotive awards are all fine and dandy and encompass everything from the greenest of vehicles to the various and sundry judged "car of the year" awards. Automakers love them because of the associated bragging rights they come with. But when you get right down to it, any award that is based on opinion is inherently flawed. As Paul Simon so aptly put it, "one man's ceiling is another man's floor."

But there is at least one award that's not only based on fact, but backed up by real-world testing.

1959 Chevrolet Bel Air crash dummy post crash

IIHS Top Safety Picks

Established in 1959 and funded by auto insurers and insurance associations, the purpose of the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and property damage on our highways. In 1992, the IIHS opened its Vehicle Research Center and the rest, as they say, is history.

In order to be awarded the IIHS's rating of Top Safety Pick, vehicles must score a good rating in each of five crashworthiness tests (small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests) and earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention. In order to qualify for the best rating of Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle has qualify as a Top Safety Pick and, new for 2017, have a good or acceptable headlight rating.

2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ logo

2017 IIHS Top Safety Picks

Because of the additional headlight rating requirement, fewer vehicles qualified for the Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2017 although according to Adrian Lund, IIHS president, "Manufacturers are focusing on improving this basic safety equipment, and we're confident that the winners' list will grow as the year progresses."

2017 Top Safety Pick+ winners

2014 Mazda Mazda3

Small cars

Chevrolet Volt
Hyundai Elantra (sedan only; built after March 2016)
Mazda Mazda 3 (4-door sedan/ 4-door hatchback)
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Prius (built after August 2016)

2016 Mazda CX-3

Small SUVs

Mazda CX-3
Mitsubishi Outlander
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester (built after October 2016)
Toyota RAV4

2013 Honda Accord sedan

Midsize cars

Honda Accord 4-door
Mazda 6
Nissan Altima
Nissan Maxima
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Toyota Camry
Toyota Prius v
Volkswagen Jetta

2016 Honda Pilot

Midsize SUVs

Honda Pilot
Hyundai Santa Fe (built after March 2016)

2017 Audi A4

Midsize luxury cars

Audi A4
Lexus ES 350
Volvo S60
Volvo V60

2014 Acura MDX

Midsize luxury SUVs

Acura MDX
Acura RDX
Audi Q5
Buick Envision
Lexus NX
Lexus RX
Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
Volvo XC60

2017 Chrysler Pacifica


Chrysler Pacifica (built after August 2016)

2017 Genesis G90

Large luxury cars

Genesis G80
Genesis G90
Lexus RC

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Large pickup

Honda Ridgeline

2017 Top Safety Pick Winners

2014 Mini Cooper


Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-door
Toyota Yaris iA

2016 Acura ILX

Small cars

Acura ILX
Honda Civic 2-door
Honda Civic 4-door
Lexus CT 200h
Nissan Sentra
Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen
Volkswagen GTI 4-door

2016 Fiat 500X

Small SUVs

Fiat 500X
Hyundai Tucson
Kia Sportage

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Midsize cars

Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler 200
Ford Fusion
Honda Accord 2-door
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Volkswagen Passat

2017 GMC Acadia

Midsize SUVs

GMC Acadia
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Kia Sorento
Nissan Murano
Nissan Pathfinder

2014 BMW 2 series

Midsize luxury cars

Audi A3
BMW 2 series
Lincoln MKZ
Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4-door

2017 Cadillac XT5

Midsize luxury SUVs

Cadillac XT5
Infiniti QX60
Lincoln MKX
Volvo XC90

2015 Toyota Avalon

Large car

Toyota Avalon

2017 Audi Q7

Large SUV

Audi Q7

2015 Kia Sedona


Kia Sedona

2014 Acura RLX

Large luxury cars

Acura RLX
Audi A6
Infiniti Q70 (except V8 4-wheel drive models)
Volvo S90

Consumers looking for more information can visit the IIHS website: www.iihs.org

Images courtesy of IIHS