Midsize SUVs are very popular with growing families and those who want a little more space and utility to accommodate various lifestyle pursuits. Safety is always a major consideration when it comes to family vehicles, as well as being high on the list of must-haves for most vehicle consumers.
Of the extensive list of midsize SUVs available in the market today, however, only three three-row midsize SUVs have currently been able to garner the coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): the 2017 , 2016 , and 2016 .
To qualify for the TSP, the rating below the TSP+, the IIHS requires that a vehicle achieve a top rating in all of the measured tests: small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints. To earn TSP+, vehicles must also have a standard or optional automatic emergency braking system capable of bring the vehicle to a stop before it hits a barrier at speeds from 10 to 25 mph – without any driver intervention.
Here’s a brief look at each of these models, with particular emphasis on how they qualified to earn the IIHS top rating.
2017 Kia Sorento – The previous model year (2016) Kia Sorento three-row midsize SUV was an IIHS Top Safety Pick, although it failed to achieve TSP+ status because it lacked an automatic braking system that could deploy in the event of an imminent collision. That all changed for the 2017 Kia Sorento with the addition of the optional automatic emergency braking system.
The feature is bundled with the Advanced Technology Package in the Sorento LX and SX models, while automatic emergency braking is included in the EX model with the Advanced Touring Package. Only the base Sorento LS doesn’t include the ability to option the feature.
The IIHS categorizes the front crash prevention in the 2017 Sorento as “superior” with optional equipment.
2016 Honda Pilot – Another midsize three-row SUV with green top ratings across the board, including “superior” front crash prevention with optional equipment is the fully redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot.
The seven-passenger SUV achieves the TSP+ rating when it is optioned with Honda’s Collision Mitigation Braking System, which is included as part of the Japanese automaker’s Sensing Package. The Honda Sensing Package, however, is not available on the base Pilot LX.
The package includes lane departure and forward collision warning systems with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and road departure mitigation.
2016 Toyota Highlander – After making structural modifications to improve its Highlander midsize SUV’s performance in the IIHS small overlap frontal test, the 2016 Highlander three-row SUV (with seating for up to eight passengers) clinched the highly-desirable TSP+ rating. The optional available front crash prevention system, categorized as “advanced” by the IIHS, is what sealed the deal for earning the TSP+ designation.
The safety agency also said the dummy movement in the test of the 2016 Highlander was better controlled than a test of the earlier model.