Let’s face it: people make mistakes, and driver error accounts for most crashes. Fortunately, crash testing by organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) helps identify which vehicles might help you walk away from a driver error. This year, two Nissan models, the 2018 Nissan Kicks compact utility vehicle and 2018 Nissan Sentra sedan, have claimed IIHS’ second-highest crash test ratings: Top Safety Pick. Several factors make Nissan Kicks and Nissan Sentra IIHS Top Safety Picks.

Crash Tests and Crash Prevention

That a vehicle protects its occupants in case of a crash is tested in five different IIHS crash tests. These test driver-side small overlap protection, the most common crash scenario, moderate overlap front crash resistance, side crash protection, and rollover protection. Head restraints and seats are also tested for occupant support and protection. Both Nissan Kicks and Nissan Sentra passed the IIHS crash test series with flying colors, but crash survivability is only one part of the mix.

Additionally, to quality for IIHS Top Safety Pick, vehicles must have an available front crash protection system, such as Nissan Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (FCW). After all, the best crash is the one that’s avoided in the first place. In IIHS testing, Nissan’s system was rated superior, but it’s good to note for shoppers that, while Nissan Kicks comes standard with FCW on all trim levels, not all Nissan Sentra are equipped with the technology. Still, some other upgrades are necessary to get a Nissan Kicks or Nissan Sentra with the safest features.

Headlights Need Upgrading

While both Nissan Kicks and Nissan Sentra rated well, they only garnered IIHS’ second-highest rating. To qualify for IIHS’ highest rating, Nissan’s going to have to work on those headlights. Even the best headlights in the range, only available on higher Kicks and Sentra trim levels, received an acceptable rating by IIHS, while headlights available on lower trim levels were rated poor. This makes a lot of sense, since night visibility and being visible are both critical factors in avoiding crashes.

Other automakers, recognizing this, have upgraded their headlight systems to improve visibility and have gained IIHS top rating, Top Safety Pick Plus. Future iterations of Nissan Kicks and Nissan Sentra will likely feature upgrades to the headlights to qualify for the higher IIHS safety rating.

Nissan fans, if you’re looking for some of the safest vehicles on the road, the 2018 Nissan Kicks and 2018 Nissan Sentra are definitely worth your consideration. They both rank very well in crash tests and have exceptional frontal collision warning systems, as well as other great safety technology. On top of all that, Nissan delivers impressive value and great fuel economy for the modern family, at school or work or play.

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