NEW YORK — Seven midsize vehicles earned the top rating in a new insurance industry test of high-tech safety features designed to prevent front-end collisions.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested 74 midsize cars and SUVs from the model years 2013 and 2014. Those receiving ratings had either front collision-warning systems, which alerts 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.
The vehicles winning "superior" ratings were the Cadillac ATS and SRX, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Mercedes C-Class, and Volvo S60 and XC60.
The six vehicles winning "advanced" ratings were the Acura MDX, Audi A4 and Q5, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus ES and Mazda 6.
Another 25 vehicles received"basic" ratings. There were the Acura ZDX; BMW 3 series and X3; Chevrolet Equinox and Malibu; Dodge Durango; Ford Edge, Explorer, Flex and Fusion; GMC Terrain, Honda Accord and Crosstour; Infiniti Q50, QX50, QX60 and QX70; Jeep Cherokee, Lexus IS and RX; Lincoln MKT, MKX and MKZ, and Mercedes GLK and M-Class.
Another 36 got no ratings because they either didn't have the front-end collision alert or automatic braking features or their systems didn't meet the institute's standards.
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.
The institute says the tests will help people decide which features to buy and encourage automakers to adopt the new technology faster.