Since fuel economy and safety routinely top the list of priorities of auto consumers, hybrid sedans have an obvious appeal for American families. Unlike the variable factors involved with mpg ratings, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a rigorous battery of crash tests automakers must pass to get themselves a five-star safety rating posted on Safercar.gov.
For cars to receive an overall score of five stars, the vehicle must receive a perfect five stars in at least one of the three tests (frontal crash, side crash, and rollover) while receiving at least four out of five stars in the other two tests. Among 2015 model-year vehicles tested by the NHTSA, only one hybrid sedan scored a perfect five stars, while five notched perfect ratings in two tests. Another three landed five-star ratings with perfect scores in just one test.
Only full hybrids (not “mild” ones) were considered for this list. The lone exception is the Acura ILX Hybrid, which received a five-star rating for its 2015 model but was discontinued. Cars are ordered from those which lost points yet scored an overall five stars to the one hybrid sedan that garnered five stars in each segment. Since models have yet to be released, photos of the most recent model are used. Here are the only nine hybrid sedans with a five-star safety rating for 2015 models. Statistics are current through July 20, 2014.
9. 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Ford’s luxury division has been successful in marketing its Lincoln MKZ Hybrid by keeping the price point close ($1,000 more) to its standard model. Another ringing endorsement came in the NHTSA’s safety rating. The MKZ Hybrid scored a perfect five stars in its frontal crash test while notching four out of five stars in the side and rollover tests. Its cumulative safety rating was five stars with a total risk of rollover at 10.9 percent. Lincoln’s 2014 MKZ Hybrid gets 38 mpg in the city.
8. 2015 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
In terms of fuel economy, it’s hard to top the terrific 48 mpg highway rating of the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. On the safety front, the NHTSA has awarded the 2015 Jetta Hybrid five stars from its batery of crash tests. Broken down, that comes out to a perfect five stars in the side crash tests along with four out of five stars in the rollover and frontal crash tests. Its total risk of rollover was 11.1 percent.
7. 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The Ford Fusion Energi hybrid EV was the best selling U.S. plug-in on record in June 2014, which shows how popular an efficient variant of a winning midsize sedan can be. Its standard hybrid sells even better than the plug-in, which bodes well for the 2015 model that will come to market with a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. Like its corporate sibling, the MKZ Hybrid, the Fusion scored a perfect five stars on frontal crash tests while notching four of five stars on rollover and side crash tests. Its risk of rollover also was 10.9 percent.
6. 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid
While Honda has numerous Top Safety Pick models in ots lineup, the 2015 Accord Hybrid sedan landed an overall five stars for its NHTSA crash tests. In fact, it did better than the three previous models listed here by losing only one star in its cycle of tests. That lone demerit came in the frontal test, where the Accord Hybrid put up four out of five stars. Honda’s hybrid, capable of a remarkable 50 mpg city in the 2014 model, scored a perfect five stars in the side crash and rollover tests to get the overall five-star rating for 2015. Its risk of rollover stood at 9.9 percent.
5. 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 3
The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is one of the most powerful hybrid cars on the market with 335 horsepower, but its near-perfect safety rating will endear this attractive ride to just as many auto consumers. Overall, the ActiveHybrid 3 got a full five stars from the NHTSA, with its frontal crash (four stars) the only test where a point was docked. Otherwise, it scored a perfect five stars in side crash and rollover (9.9 percent risk). The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 gets 33 mpg on the highway.
4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata needed to separate itself from the pack of midsize sedans, and it took a big step when it received the Top Safety Pick+ designation on July 18. The NHTSA has already given the 2015 Sonata Hybrid a five-star safety rating, so it has officially covered the spread. Along with a perfect side crash and rollover score, it received four stars in the frontal crash test along with a rollover risk of 9.9 percent.
Curiously, the 2015 Sonata Hybrid drivetrain will not be available in the redesigned 2015 model but will come in the 2014 body (pictured) through the 2016 model year, AutoBlog reports.
3. 2015 Lexus ES 300h
With its 40 mpg highway rating, the 2014 Lexus ES300h boasts impressive efficiency. It also sports a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. That rating is achieved through two perfect scores (in frontal and side crash tests) along with one four-star rating in the rollover test. It rollover risk was clocked at 11.1 percent. Regarding cost, the 2014 ES 300h costs $2,880 more than the ES350, which gets 31 mpg on the highway.
2. 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 535i
The larger and more luxurious of the 2015 BMW hybrid sedans has yet to be released, but the automaker has already locked down a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA for the 2015 ActiveHybrid 535. This hybrid landed the full five stars in its side crash and rollover tests while notching four of five stars in the frontal crash test. Its rollover risk was clocked at 9.3 percent, which makes it the safest 2015 hybrid sedan in this department. Overall, it still fell one star short of the top-performing hybrid wearing a 2015 badge.
1. 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid
The latest refresh of the Kia Optima Hybrid brought great style updates to the car, but families seeking a safe, efficient sedan will be interested to learn it was the only 2015 midsize hybrid to land a perfect five stars in every NHTSA crash test. With that performance, the 2015 Optima Hybrid got the highest rating possible from the NHTSA on its Safercar.gov site.
Scoring perfectly in frontal, side, and rollover tests, the 2015 Optima Hybrid delivers another feather in the cap of the Korean automaker that landed the Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS for the 2015 Sonata, its corporate sibling. Optima Hybrids wearing the 2015 badge will retain the look of the current model, a trend that will likely hold through the 2016 model year.