The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just released the results of its latest new-vehicle test regimen that assesses its potential to successfully avoid being involved in low-speed front crash incidents. 

Only vehicles with optional or standard front crash prevention systems were eligible to be rated, and the superior/advanced/basic marks awarded depending on whether they offer autonomous braking/autobrake, and if so, how effective it is in preventing or mitigating impacts at 12 and 25 mph. The IIHS testing was conducted at the Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia and consisted of five runs that simulated potential crash situations at each speed.

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To earn a superior rating for the IIHS, a car or truck must have autobrake and avoid a crash or substantially reduce contact speeds in both tests. Those with autonomous braking that can do the same in at least one of the two tests qualify for an advanced mark while any vehicle with a forward collision warning system that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performance criteria gets a basic rating.

Of the 74 mid-size 2013-2014 model year cars and trucks subjected to the new IIHS testing, seven earned superior ratings when equipped with optional autobrake and forward collision warning systems. That list was headed by the Subaru Legacy sedan and Subaru Outback wagon which recorded perfect scores at both speed increments, and also included the Cadillac ATS sedan, Cadillac SRX SUV, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, Volvo S60 sedan and the Volvo XC60 SUV.

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One step down and earning advanced ratings were the 2014 Acura MDX crossover SUV, Audi A4 sedan, Audi Q5 SUV, 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, Lexus ES sedan and the 2014 Mazda 6 sedan. In addition, the Volvo S60 and XC60 - the only vehicles that come with standard autobrake -- earn advanced ratings even when they aren't equipped with the optional Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection system. Of the remaining models, 25 earned a basic rating while 36 others either don't offer a front crash prevention system or have one that fails to meet NHTSA or IIHS criteria. A complete list of all models subjected to this new test by the IIHS can be found on their site.  

"Front crash prevention systems can add a thousand dollars or more to the cost of a new car. Our new ratings let consumers know which systems offer the most promise for the extra expense," said David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. The organization also plans to add this new test to the evaluation regimen it currently uses when it comes to establishing its 2014 Top Safety Pick+ winners. In addition to earning qualifying marks in the IIHS' existing battery of crash tests, a vehicle also would have to merit basic, advanced or superior ratings when it comes to front crash prevention to gain Top Safety Pick+ status.

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