ARLINGTON, Virginia — The 2016 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV earned the 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, after earning a "good" rating in the small overlap front test.
The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.
"Toyota made structural modifications to improve small overlap performance for 2016," said the Institute in a statement.
The Highlander improved from an "acceptable" rating in the small overlap front test to a "good" rating.
"During the test of the 2016 Highlander, the dummy's movement was better controlled than in the test of the earlier model," the Institute said. "The head hit the front airbag, which stayed in front of the dummy until rebound. In contrast, the dummy in the previous test slid off the airbag's left side."
Standard equipment on the 2016 Highlander includes eight airbags, a rearview camera, vehicle stability control, antilock brakes, traction control, hill-start assist control and smart-stop technology.
None of those won the 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award.
The 2016 Traverse and Pathfinder earned "good" scores in all Institute tests. The 2016 Explorer earned a "marginal" rating in the small overlap front test and "good" scores in other tests.
To earn the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in all five crashworthiness evaluations. Top Safety Pick winners also have an optional front crash-prevention system that earns a basic rating; vehicles earning the "plus" have an advanced or superior rating.
The Highlander's optional front crash prevention is rated "advanced."
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