A growing number of vehicles are earning top safety scores for front crash-prevention technology as automakers beef up their systems.
Twenty-one of 24 cars and SUVs earned an advanced or higher rating in the latest round of testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
"We are already seeing improvements from automakers since the initial launch of our ratings last September," David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer, said in a press statement. "BMW and Lexus, for example, have added more braking capability to their systems, which has paid off in higher ratings."
Large family and large luxury cars made up the bulk of the latest test group. IIHS also tested four midsize luxury/near luxury cars, three midsize luxury SUVs and a midsize SUV.
Four vehicles, when equipped with certain options, earned perfect scores for front-crash prevention, including the:
- BMW 5 series large luxury car
- BMW X5 midsize luxury SUV
- 2015 Hyundai Genesis large luxury car
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class large luxury car.
In all, eight models earned the highest rating of superior, 13 earned advanced, and three earned a basic rating. A full list is available on the IIHS website.
Front crash-prevention systems use sensors, such as cameras, radar or laser, to detect when the vehicle is getting too close to one in front of it. Most systems issue a warning and precharge the brakes to maximize their effect if the driver responds by braking. Many systems brake the vehicle autonomously if the driver doesn't respond. In some cases, automatic braking is activated without a warning.
The institute rates vehicles as basic, advanced or superior for front-crash prevention depending on whether they offer autobrake and, if so, how effective it is in tests at 12 and 25 mph.
"We know that this technology is helping drivers avoid crashes," Zuby said. "The advantage of autobrake is that even in cases where a crash can't be avoided entirely, the system will reduce speed. Reducing the speed reduces the amount of damage that occurs to both the striking and struck cars and reduces injuries to people in those cars."