The institute tested 74 midsize cars and SUVs from the model years 2013 and 2014. Those equipped with front collision-warning and automatic braking systems generally scored better.
The systems can either warn the driver or automatically stop the car if they sense a potential collision.
The institute IIHS, a nonprofit research group funded by insurance companies, has pushed federal regulators and automakers to require or offer as an option new safety systems such as antilock brakes. The group also is pushing automakers to bolster front-end crash resistance.
Automakers have been offering the frontal-crash systems on more and more models as the price of the technology falls.
The systems use radar, cameras, ultrasonic sensors and computers to spot objects in front of cars and determine if a collision is possible.
A driver may be warned to take action, or the system may apply the brakes itself.
The IIHS said its data institute has determined that the devices help drivers avoid frontal crashes, but even so, auto insurance companies generally aren't offering discounts for people who buy them.
Insurance companies say that as the systems become more popular in certain models, insurance claims will decline. Those models eventually will see discounted rates.
In the tests, six other cars got second-best “advanced” ratings, while 25 received “basic” ratings.
Another 36 got no rating because they didn't have the systems or their systems didn't meet the institute's standards.
The institute says the tests will help people decide which features to buy and encourage automakers to adopt the new technology faster.
List of models scoring well in new safety testSeven new midsize cars and SUVs from the 2013 and 2014 model years earned “superior” ratings in a new test of high-tech safety features designed to prevent front-end crashes. Another six got “advanced” ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while 25 received “basic” ratings. Another 36 got no ratings because they either didn't have the features or their systems didn't meet the institute's standards. Those receiving ratings had either forward collision alert systems, which warn drivers of a possible crash, or automatic braking, which can stop a car if a collision is pending. The highest-rated cars generally had both:
These vehicles got superior ratings: Cadillac ATS and SRX, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Mercedes C-Class and Volvo S60 and XC60.
These cars and SUVs received advanced ratings: Acura MDX, Audi A4 and Q5, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus ES, Mazda 6.
These vehicles received basic ratings: Acura ZDX; BMW 3 series, X3; Chevrolet Equinox and Malibu; Dodge Durango; Ford Edge, Explorer, Flex, Fusion; GMC Terrain, Honda Accord and Crosstour; Infiniti Q50, QX50, QX60, QX70; Jeep Cherokee, Lexus IS and RX; Lincoln MKT, MKX, MKZ; Mercedes GLK, M-Class.
–From The Associated Press