Two Nissan models — the all-new 2018 Kicks quasi-SUV and 2019 Sentra compact sedan — have been named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Top Safety Pick is the second-highest rating IIHS gives out, below Top Safety Pick Plus. Both the Kicks and the Sentra are not be eligible for Top Safety Pick Plus ratings based on their performance in headlight testing.
Related: 2018 Nissan Kicks Review: Impressive Value and Utility Without AWD
To qualify for a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must receive a rating of good in five separate crash tests — driver-side front overlap, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seat testing. It also needs to have an available — but not necessarily standard — front crash prevention system that earns a rating of superior or advanced. A vehicle must also receive a good or acceptable rating in headlight testing.
Both the Kicks and Sentra aced those five crash tests and received superior ratings in front crash prevention system testing. Both managed only an acceptable rating for optional headlights available on higher trims, however. Standard headlights available on lower trims received a poor rating in testing.
Because of their respective headlight ratings, neither the Kicks nor the Sentra are eligible for the Top Safety Pick Plus award, which requires — on top of everything needed for a Top Safety Pick award — a headlight rating of good. Top Safety Pick Plus also requires an acceptable or good rating in passenger-side small overlap crash testing; the Kicks received an acceptable rating, while the Sentra has not yet been tested.
Both the Kicks and Sentra have multiple competitors that have achieved a Top Safety Pick Plus rating. 2018 models of the Subaru Crosstrek and Kia Soul are both Top Safety Pick Plus alternatives to the Kicks, while 2018 versions Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra and both sedan and hatchback versions of the Subaru Impreza compete with the Sentra.
Given that other manufacturers have made successful adjustments to headlights to receive an improved rating, will Nissan follow suit? We’ll be sure to follow up if so.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.