If you’re in the market for a new family car and aren't hopping on the crossover bandwagon or you want a vehicle you'll actually enjoy driving every day, a large sedan checks all the boxes. In our opinion, you can’t beat this segment for performance and practicality. Along with a great driving experience, safety is high on the priority list for most car shoppers and we don't buy the idea that you have to choose between a safe car and a fun car.

2018 Toyota Camry Sedan
Attractive, fun and safe? These sedans cover all the bases. (image: Toyota)

After testing a comprehensive selection of sedans in 2018, we chose the 2018 Toyota Camry, 2018 Hyundai Elantra, and 2018 BMW 5 Series for their perfect marriage of driving performance and top-notch IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) safety ratings.

How a Vehicle's Safety is Evaluated

Crash testing a sedan
The IIHS evaluates vehicles based on crashworthiness and crash avoidance. (image: IIHS)

We looked at all of the sedans that we've reviewed in the past year and selected the ones that have earned the IIHS 2018 Safety Pick+ award which is the highest possible rating that the organization issues. The IIHS considers two aspects of a vehicle's safety to evaluate cars in each segment: crashworthiness and crash avoidance & mitigation.


IIHS has a scale of 'good', 'acceptable', 'marginal' and 'poor' ratings based on six crash tests that are conducted. The six tests include driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints.

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

Vehicles with available front crash prevention systems are rated as 'basic', 'advanced' or 'superior', based on the type of system they have and performance in track tests. Vehicle headlights are also evaluated and rated "G": good, "A": acceptable, "M": marginal or "P": poor.

IIHS 2018 Safety Pick+ Criteria

In order to earn the highest IIHS Safety Pick+ rating, a car must get 'good' ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests, as well as an 'acceptable' or 'good' rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test. It also must earn an 'advanced' or 'superior' rating for front crash prevention and a 'good' headlight rating.

1. 2018 Toyota Camry

2018 Toyota Camry

We tested the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 earlier this year and were blown away by the improvements in its performance. In addition to an upgraded interior and exterior, the mid-size family sedan is a champ on the road. The ride quality is excellent, the capable V6 allows a speedy 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and steering and handling is precise and confidence boosting. 

The 2018 Toyota Camry not only got an upgrade from a performance perspective, it also dominated the IIHS safety tests. The Camry is one of the safest cars you can buy since it scored the highest 'good' rating in all the crashworthiness and crash avoidance categories and earned a 'superior' front crash prevention rating. For parents with small children, the Camry is the only sedan on our list that gets a 'good' rating for the 'Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use' category.

Starting MSRP: $23,645

Get Local Discounts on the 2018 Toyota Camry

2. 2018 Hyundai Sonata 

2018 Hyundai Sonata

Although the 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited that we tested got a refresh instead of a full redesign for 2018, it didn't leave us wishing for much more. When it comes to performance, the Sonata's steering and handling are upgraded thanks to a recalibration and an improved anti-roll bar stiffness. The Sonata also offers a comfortable ride due to its shock-absorbing suspension.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata has excellent IIHS crash test ratings,  with a 'superior' rating for front crash prevention. It scores a coveted 'good' in every category besides 'Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use' for which it earned a 'marginal' rating. This category evaluates the ease of use for the system of attachments for child restrains. If you don't have children that require car seats, there should be no reason to be concerned. 

Starting MSRP: $22,050  

Get Local Discounts on the 2018 Hyundai Sonata

3. 2018 BMW 5 Series

BMW 5-Series

If it's a safe and capable luxury sedan you're searching for, the BMW 5 Series delivers. We reviewed the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive and gave it an 'excellent' rating thanks to its pleasant driving experience and exceptional safety scores. An 8-speed transmission coupled with a 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 makes for a luxurious and responsive ride. Acceleration offers an impressive 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and handling is improved with a .4 inch lower ride height and automatically adjusting anti-roll bars.

The 2018 BMW 5 Series made it on the IIHS 2018 Safety Pick+ list by acing all the crash tests. It scored a  'good' rating for crashworthiness and for front crash prevention and headlights. The only points docked were for the 'Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use' category where the 5 Series scores an 'acceptable' rating. 

Starting MSRP: $52,650

Get Local Discounts on the 2018 BMW 5 Series