In the latest round of front crash prevention testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 14 cars received a Superior and five earned an Advanced rating. Front crash prevention systems with automatic braking have been tested by the IIHS since 2013 and the number of vehicles earning either Advanced or Superior ratings has tripled since then.

The basic rating, Advanced, is given to vehicles that meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s performance criteria for forward-collision warning and have autobrake systems that provide minimal speed reduction. The highest rating, Superior, goes to vehicles that show a major speed reduction in in the 12-mph and 25-mph tests.

Beyond the tested performance, what might be even better news is that these systems have also become more readily available. Luxury cars are no longer the only players in this market.

The Impact of Advanced Safety

Consumer Reports welcomes the improvement in both performance and prevalence. Many auto testers here have jumped to attention in response to collision-warning alerts, appreciating the guardian angel effect. Although autobrake systems aren’t yet perfect, we value their potential to take over when drivers can’t or don’t.

Real-world evidence shows that autobrake systems are making a safety difference. Vehicles equipped with these systems continue to show reduced rates of insurance claims for both damage and injury, according to reports from the Highway Loss Data Institute. And data from Australia and Europe shows that vehicles equipped with autobrake systems are involved in 38 percent fewer rear-end crashes than similar models without the systems.

Front crash prevention systems have many names in the automotive industry which can make it difficult for shoppers to understand exactly what they are suppose to be looking for. Systems such as the Mercedes Collision Prevention Assist Plus, the Subaru EyeSight, and the Volvo City Safe, to name just a few, work to accomplish the same safety goal with some combination of cameras, radar, or laser to watch for cars ahead and alert the driver if they are approaching too fast or not paying attention.

Systems with autobrake go one step further, automatically applying the brakes when an imminent collision is detected; some react even without warning the driver. These systems are one of those “you don’t need them until you need them” features. We heartily recommend car shoppers prioritize such advanced safety systems. (Check our safety features list for 2015 models.)

Advanced safety feature availability promises to expand with 2016 models, including more systems with an autobrake function.

IIHS Front Crash Prevention Ratings

Presented in rank order.

Advanced

  • 2016 BMW X3 (with City Braking Function)
  • 2016 Volkswagen Golf/Golf Sportwagen
  • 2015 Volkswagen Touareg
  • 2016 Volkswagen Jetta

Superior

  • 2016 Acura MDX/RLX
  • 2016 BMW X3 (with Braking Function) 
  • 2016 Mazda CX-5
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class/E-Class
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA
  • 2016 Acura ILX/RDX
  • 2015 Chrysler 300
  • 2015 Dodge Charger
  • 2016 Mazda 6
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class/CLA/E-Class

As always, we encourage you to buy as much safety as you can afford.