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Safest Family Sedans for 2017


Safest 2017 Cars for Families:

In Part I, we awarded the safest 3-row vehicles.  In Part II, we awarded 5-passenger SUVs.  In this part, we will look at sedans that have great overall safety and are also typically less expensive to buy and operate than sport utility vehicles. Like our other safest vehicles lists, you don’t have to click through full page ads or slideshows to see the winners! Unlike lists from websites that don’t have expertise on automobile safety, our criteria to qualify are completely objective and based on safety features and crash test results from BOTH the IIHS and NHTSA.  Plus, we go one step farther and tell you the minimum trim level and cost to get a vehicle that qualifies!  Many auto mags won’t tell you that you some vehicles must be special ordered in the costliest trim level and options packages just to get the necessary safety features for your family!

As with the 5-passenger SUVs, we have similar basic requirements to trim the increasingly long list of very safe vehicles to a select few vehicles that stand out from the pack.  We keep a minimum curb weight requirement, an advantage in head-on frontal crashes.  We also limit qualifiers to midsize or larger vehicles that tend to be wider and offer better compatibility for three children or carseats in the back.  That means a lot of very safe vehicles will just miss the cut!  If your car is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it is unsafe!  Requirements:


  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2016 or 2017
  • Must have 5-star NHTSA overall/frontal/side ratings for 2017
  • Must be over 3,200 lbs. curb weight (midsize & larger sedans)

The qualifiers below are all among the safest sedans on the road.  Many other very safe models just barely missed the list for one reason or another, or simply lacked a complete set of testing results.  For example, many models dropped out of contention for 2017 because of “Marginal” or “Poor” headlight ratings from the IIHS.  The IIHS made some changes for 2017, requiring a “Good” ratings in all their crash tests and also an “Acceptable” or “Good” headlight rating.  The 2017 finalists for safest family sedan:

  1. 2016-2017 Acura RLX*
  2. 2016 Audi A6*
  3. 2016-2017 Chevrolet Malibu*
  4. 2015-2017 Chrysler 200 2WD*
  5. 2017 Genesis G80
  6. 2016-2017 Hyundai Sonata (built after Oct. 2015)*
  7. 2016_leg_photos_ext_102016-2017 Kia Optima*
  8. 2016-2017 Mazda 6
  9. 2016-2017 Nissan Altima
  10. 2016-2017 Nissan Maxima
  11. 2015-2017 Subaru Legacy
  12. 2013-2017 Volvo S60

*We include some models that qualified for a Top Safety Pick+ award in 2016.  They do not meet the IIHS requirements for the 2017 award only due to marginal, poor or untested headlights.

Selecting the winner wasn’t too difficult.  Perfection was the key.  The very safest sedans earn the top “Good” rating in every IIHS crash test, every single sub-category IIHS crash test rating and earned the best “Superior” frontal crash prevention rating by avoiding crashes in both high and low speed testing got 6 points total.  They also earned a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA and 5-stars in all five individual crash test ratings plus a 5-star rollover rating.  (Note that for 2017, the NHTSA no longer shows results in each individual crash test, so we require 5-star ratings in the frontal and side combined ratings).  This threshold is admittedly very high, so any of our Runners-Up could claim to be just as safe on the road as our winner:

Safest family sedan for 2017:

Baby Trend Recalls certain Hybrid LX 3-in-1 Carseats

December 19, 2016 NHTSA CAMPAIGN NUMBER: 16C008000

Center Adjuster Rivet May Break/FMVSS 213

In the event of a crash, the child seat occupant is at an increased risk of injury.

NHTSA Campaign Number: 16C008000

Manufacturer Baby Trend, Inc.

Components CHILD SEAT

Potential Number of Units Affected 34


Baby Trend, Inc. (Baby Trend) is recalling certain Hybrid LX 3-in-1 Centennial booster seats, model number FB58181, manufactured on July 23, 2016, and Hybrid LX 3-in-1 Kiwi booster seats, model number FB48417, manufactured on July 14, 2016. The affected child seats have a center adjuster rivet that may pull through or break if the harness is being used with a child weighing more than 40 lbs. As such, these child seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”


Baby Trend will notify owners and replace the child seat or provide a full refund. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Baby Trend customer service at 1-909-773-0018.


Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to

Safest Family SUVs for 2017


Safest 2016-2017 5-passenger SUVs for Families

In Part I, we awarded the safest 3-row vehicles for 6 or more passengers.  In this part, we will look at 5-passenger SUVs for families who don’t need a 3rd row of seating for one reason or another.

To make this year’s list of qualifiers reasonably short for 5-passenger vehicles, our standards are a little stricter than for 3-row SUVs.  In particular, the vehicles must have a Top Safety Pick+ award (for either 2016 or 2017) and 5-stars in all three NHTSA 2017 crash ratings.  That means a lot of very safe vehicles will just miss the cut!  If your SUV is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it is unsafe.  It just means it didn’t quite get the top results like our qualifiers or, in some cases, has not yet been fully crash tested by the NHTSA or IIHS.

  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2016 or 2017
  • Must have NHTSA 5-star crash ratings (overall, frontal, side) for 2017.
  • NHTSA rollover rating of 4-stars or above.

There are some new entrants this year, with improved designs and features qualifying for top crash test results.  We may add other models to this list once both the IIHS and NHTSA issue complete crash testing results.  Our qualifiers:

  1. 2016-2017 Acura RDXXC60
  2. 2016-2017 Hyundai Tucson*
  3. 2016-2017 Lincoln MKX*
  4. 2016-2017 Mazda CX-3
  5. 2015-2017 Subaru Outback
  6. 2014-2017 Volvo XC60
  7. 2016-2017 Volvo XC90*

*We include some models that qualified for a Top Safety Pick+ award in 2016.  They do not meet the IIHS requirements for the 2017 award only due to marginal, poor or untested headlights.

Safest SUV for 2017:

Safest Family Minivans and SUVs for 2017 with 3rd Row Seats


Safest 2017 Family Vehicles with Three Rows of Seating

Are safety and seating more than a couple kids your top considerations in selecting a new vehicle?  You aren’t alone!  The winner for the last two years, the 2014-2016 Acura MDX, is still a contender to retain its title for 2017.

For 2017, the IIHS not only requires a “Good” result in the newer small overlap crash test to qualify for a Top Safety Pick+ rating, but now also requires at least an “Acceptable” headlight rating.  The IIHS also demands a front crash prevention system.  These systems are not all created equal, some are only basic warnings that no longer qualify for an award, while advanced ones can actually brake in emergency situations and some are more likely to avoid a crash than lesser systems.  To earn the “TSP+” award, an auto-brake system with an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating is still required.

The NHTSA ratings remain the same, but they no longer allow consumers to see the five individual crash test results for each vehicle.  Instead, you may now only see the overall rating and a composite frontal (driver and passenger tests) and side rating (driver, passenger and rear pole impact tests).

There are plenty of very safe vehicles.  Most midsize crossover SUVs and minivans provide excellent protection for occupants, likely better than anything on the road 15 years ago.  Side curtain airbags and stability control are now standard features.  In addition to frontal crash protection systems, advanced safety features like emergency crash notification, lane departure warning, cross traffic warning and blind spot warning systems are becoming more common on non-luxury models.  A lot of very save models just miss the cut!  If your car is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it is unsafe!  Requirements:



So how do we filter the list of so many family vehicles that have earned safety awards?  It’s pretty easy:

  • Must qualify as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2016 or 2017
  • Must have an NHTSA 5-star overall rating
  • No individual NHTSA crash ratings of 3-stars or less
  • Must have at least 6 passenger seats

What vehicles make the cut?  At least 10 so far, an improvement from last year as a few more manufacturers have added active front crash protection systems in this segment.  Models that lack complete NHTSA testing but may be added to this list later include the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2017 GMC Acadia.  As a testament to how safe all these vehicles are for families, with one exception, we recommend all of the the 2017 qualifiers:

  1. 2014-2017 Acura MDX
  2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
  3. 2016-2017 Honda Pilot
  4. 2016-2017 Infiniti QX60*
  5. 2017 Kia Sorento*
  6. 2017 Kia Sedona*
  7. 2014-2017 Mitsubishi Outlander
  8. 2017 Nissan Pathfinder*
  9. 2014-2017 Toyota Highlander*
  10. 2017 Volvo XC90*

*We include some models that qualified or would have qualified for a Top Safety Pick+ award in 2016.  They do not meet the IIHS requirements for the 2017 award only due to marginal, poor or untested headlights.

And the Safest 2017 3-row Family Vehicle is: