Top Safety Pick+ awards go to BMW 3 series, 2 series

January 17, 2017

The 2017 BMW 3 series has improved from a marginal rating to a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap front crash test. That change, along with better headlights, earns the midsize luxury car a Top Safety Pick+ award.

The 2017 BMW 2 series, another midsize luxury car, also has improved headlights and is another Top Safety Pick+ winner.

The awards only apply to the 4-door sedan version of the 3 series and the 2-door coupe version of the 2 series.

To qualify for 2017 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five IIHS crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable or good headlight rating.

The small overlap test is meant to replicate what happens when a vehicle's front, driver-side corner collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. The 2016 3 series rated marginal in the test because its structure didn't hold up. Intrusion exceeded 12 inches at the footrest.

Beginning with 2017 models built after November, BMW made changes to the suspension and adjoining structure. That resulted in more controlled wheel movement in the small overlap test. The structure held up better, with maximum intrusion of 6 inches at the footrest.

The best-available headlights on the 3 series are curve-adaptive LEDs with high-beam assist, which are part of an optional lighting package and earn an acceptable rating. The 2-series has its own lighting package, which includes good-rated curve-adaptive high-intensity discharge lights. Both vehicles earn poor headlight ratings without the lighting packages.

Optional front crash prevention systems on both cars earn advanced ratings.

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