In the most recent round of crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2017 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid performed quite well.

The institute designated this year's Volt a "Top Safety Pick+"—the highest rating available.

The current, second-generation Volt debuted as a 2016 model.

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But the 2016 Volt was only available in a handful of states, and the IIHS did not test it.

The 2016 and 2017 models are mechanically identical, with only slight tweaks to feature content to differentiate them.

The 2017 Volt received the top rating of "good" in all IIHS crash tests, a requirement for receiving the "Top Safety Pick+" rating.

2017 Chevrolet Volt

2017 Chevrolet Volt

That included a "good" rating in the group's small-overlap front crash test, an improvement over the first-generation Volt's "acceptable" rating.

The small-overlap test is meant to replicate a collision with the corner of another vehicle, or a fixed object such as a utility pole or tree.

For the test, a rigid barrier strikes 25 percent of a car's front end, at 40 mph.

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This test has proven challenging for carmakers, as off-center contact with the barrier tends to bypass most of the elements in a car's structure designed to absorb impact forces.

In this test, the 2017 Volt allowed less "intrusion" of material into the passenger space than the first-generation model, the IIHS said.

To achieve the "+" in "Top Safety Pick+," cars must also have front-crash prevention systems with IIHS ratings of "advanced" or "superior."

2017 Chevrolet Volt

2017 Chevrolet Volt

The 2017 Volt earned the higher "superior" rating with both the optional front automatic braking and low-speed front automatic braking.

In testing, the car was able to avoid collisions at 12 mph and 25 mph, the IIHS said.

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The low-speed system was only able to avoid a crash at 12 mph, but reduced impact speed by 5 mph in the 25-mph test to earn an "advanced" rating, the group noted.

Beginning with the 2017 model year, the IIHS also takes headlight performance into account when determining ratings.

2017 Chevrolet Volt

2017 Chevrolet Volt

With its standard headlights, the Volt earned an "acceptable" rating, but that improved to "good" on models equipped with the optional high-beam assist.

This feature automatically switches to low beams when another vehicle approaches.

The 2017 Volt was tested as part of a group of electric cars, and ratings for the other models in the group will be released at a later date, the IIHS said.


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