The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released its annual list of the safest cars to drive in 2019. From compact sedans to luxury SUVs, this year’s Top Safety Picks list includes something for everyone who is concerned about protecting themselves and their loved ones when on the roads.
Subaru has the most vehicles on the 2019 list of 30+ total vehicles, with six different models highlighted. Korean automakers Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis —which share many designs and safety features but operate as three different brands—have a combined 12 vehicles on the IIHS list. Here are our 10 favorite cars on the list, representing a variety of different auto categories. If safety is one of your top concerns when purchasing a new car, let this list be your starting point.
10. Hyundai Elantra
Price Range: $16,999 – $27,399
Category: Compact Car
Despite being categorized as a “compact car,” the venerable Hyundai Elantra has plenty of passenger room. It also gets great gas mileage and features state-of-the-art intuitive controls. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces a stellar 33 miles per gallon of fuel economy and has responsive handling that adds to an overall smooth ride.
Active safety features and a Sport version with a 1.6-liter, turbo four-cylinder engine are available for additional costs. There is also a GT hatchback available for people who want a little more excitement than they get in a standard sedan. The Elantra received top marks in all of the IIHF’s “crashworthiness” tests.
9. Toyota Camry
Price Range: $26,490 – $41,090
Category: Midsize Car
Moving up to the midsize car category, one of the top safety picks is the always reliable Toyota Camry. Redesigned by the Japanese automaker with a more stylish look than past versions, the 2019 Camry offers nimble handling that might surprise some drivers. But don’t worry, the Camry remains the comfortable, quiet car it has always been and remains one of the very best midsized sedans on the market today. A standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides good power and gets an impressive 32 miles per gallon of fuel economy.
For people wanting more power, there is a 3.5-liter V6 engine available in top of the line models. Both are paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. If saving on gas and helping the environment is your thing, there is a hybrid LE edition of the Camry that gets 47 miles per gallon. The Toyota Camry also comes with Apple CarPlay as part of its infotainment system for 2019. Standard safety equipment includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, but blind spot warning is optional and, unfortunately, costs extra.
8. Toyota Avalon
Price Range: $42,790 – $47,790
Category: Large Car
Another sturdy and reliable Toyota makes the Top Safety list. This one is the Avalon, Toyota’s primary large car. It is a roomy and comfortable ride for sure. The Avalon also has easy-to-use controls, which makes it a pleasant large car. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission, giving it some decent pop.
The available hybrid version has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that returns an impressive 42 miles per gallon, which is great for such a large vehicle. This car also scores points for having an unusually quiet cabin and plush interior. Handling is responsive, the standard infotainment system includes a 9-inch touch screen that is fairly easy to use. Standard safety features include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. The IIHF has given the Avalon improved scores for each of the last four years, and it’s now considered one of the safest cars on the road.
7. Subaru Outback
Price Range: $29,295 – $42,295
People who love wagons and cannot quite bring themselves to purchase an SUV will love the Subaru Outback. It is, after all, a practical all-terrain vehicle. Critics give the Outback top points for providing a comfortable ride using its standard all-wheel drive. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine gets 24 miles per gallon (decent in the wagon category).
A stronger 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine transforms the car, making it both quicker and quieter. The generous rear seat is spacious enough for three adults and does not feel crowded. The cargo area is comparable to most SUVs. Owners will also like that the Outback comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility as standard features, giving them a choice. Standard safety features worth boasting about include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist.
6. Subaru Impreza
Price Range: $19,995 – $31,095
Category: Sporty Car
Car enthusiasts who prefer a sportier vehicle will enjoy the Subaru Impreza, which is available in either a sedan or five-door hatchback version. The Impreza is known for being a comfortable ride, while also being agile and quiet.
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission that mimics a conventional automatic transmission. The steering is responsive, and the body remains sure-footed in corners and glides over bumps in the road.
The 30 miles per gallon the vehicle gets in sedan mode laudable given the standard all-wheel drive. The Impreza also offers Subaru’s comprehensive EyeSight suite of advanced safety gear, such as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Both the sedan and the wagon versions are IIHF top safety picks.
5. Kia Niro
Price Range: $25,495 – $37,765
Category: Hybrid Vehicle
Among gas/electric hybrid vehicles, the Kia Niro won out in the major safety categories evaluated by IIHS. Evaluators praised the five-passenger Niro for combining good fuel economy with cargo versatility. The front-wheel-drive hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which, in conjunction with the electric drive unit, puts out a combined 139 horsepower.
Placing a lithium-ion battery under the rear seat creates a flat cargo floor when the rear seats are folded down. Providing 43 miles per gallon puts the Niro in the same league as the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius. Safety features include automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic warning. A fully electric version of the Kia Niro that gets 239-mile range on a single battery charge is also available in the 2019 model.
4. Mazda CX-5
Price Range: $27,850 – $40,950
Category: Compact SUV
Now we get into the SUV sections. In the compact SUV category, the Mazda CX-5 impresses with its overall safety and reliability. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission provide for a responsive powertrain. Fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon is good for an smaller SUV.
The cabin is quiet and interior quality is strong and attractive. Soft-touch surfaces, detailed stitching and chrome trim add to an impressive interior. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking comes standard. A new top trim Signature edition of the CX-5 is available with a stronger turbocharged engine or a 2.2-liter diesel engine for the 2019 model year.
3. Hyundai Santa Fe
Price Range: $28,999 – $44,999
Category: Midsize SUV
Few midsized SUVs can compare to the Hyundai Santa Fe when it comes to safety and value. Its 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine or more powerful 2.0-liter turbo-GDI four-cylinder engine each provide a nice ride. The Santa Fe also has composed handling and responsive steering. Only mild engine noise penetrates the otherwise silent cabin.
The controls are surprisingly easy to master, particularly the quick-to-respond infotainment system. There is also plenty of head and legroom, and the seats are comfortable and also provide lumbar support. Rear-seat room is ample. Standard safety systems include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot detection warning.
2. Mercedes-Benz GLE
Price Range: $67,100 – $116,300
Category: Luxury SUV
People who like being pampered and can afford to spend more than $100,000 on a vehicle should consider the Mercedes-Benz GLE, one of the very best luxury SUVs on the market today. The GLE is an extremely capable and luxurious midsized SUV. For 2019, the GLE400 comes with a 3.0-liter, 329 horsepower turbo V6 engine, which is smooth and powerful.
Look past the fact that this vehicle only gets 18 miles per gallon, and focus instead on its impressive towing capacity. Steering response is nimble and there is a first-rate interior finish and supportive seats. Automatic emergency braking comes standard, plus a wide array of additional safety features. Only five cars made the IIHF’s list for Top Safety Pick+ in the Midsize Luxury SUV category, so the GLE is in exclusive company when it comes to safety.
1. Genesis G90
Price Range: $84,000 – $89,500
Category: Large Luxury Car
The top safety pick in the “ultra luxury category” is the Genesis G90, the flagship sedan from Hyundai’s luxury brand. It features a 5.0-liter V8 engine that is combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear (or all four) wheel drive.
The spacious cabin is decked out in wood and chrome. The ride is exceptionally smooth and the cabin is super-quiet. Handling is responsive though not overly sporty. People seated in the back of the Genesis G90 get to play with controls affixed to the rear armrest that allow them to manage audio and climate settings. A complete suite of advanced safety features comes standard in this vehicle, as one would expect.