• 2014 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+
  • NHTSA 5-star safety rating

Chevrolet's midsize sedan achieved top safety ratings from both government and private crash-testing agencies. The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu earned a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal safety regulator that performs crash tests on new vehicles. The Malibu also aced crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), earning its Top Safety Pick+ designation.

Earning the highest rating from IIHS recently became tougher when the insurance industry-funded institute added a small-overlap front crash test. Before its introduction, IIHS named vehicles that performed best in its testing as Top Safety Picks. After adding the new test that simulates a frontal crash into a narrow object such as a tree or utility pole, IIHS added the Top Safety Pick+ rating for its highest achievers.

A model must meet several criteria to be called a Top Safety Pick+. First, it needs top ratings of Good in the moderate-overlap front crash test, side crash test, and roof strength and head restraint tests. Furthermore, it needs a Good or Acceptable rating in the new small-overlap test, and it requires that the model be available with at least a basic crash-prevention system.

The 2013 Malibu met most of those requirements but achieved only a Marginal score for the new small-overlap test. The 2014 Chevy Malibu improved on that with a top score of Good in the new test, earning it the institute's highest possible rating.

In NHTSA testing, both the 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Malibu earned the top 5-star rating, with perfect scores on all but the rollover test. In the rollover assessment, the Malibu is rated at four stars. A deeper look into the Malibu's NHTSA rating confirms high levels of safety. Of the five scores that contribute to its front and side crash-test ratings, the Malibu aced all but one.

Of course, crashes in the real world are by their nature less orderly than tests by IIHS or NHTSA. Therefore, these safety ratings are similar to fuel economy ratings: They allow shoppers to compare two or more models, even though the actual results may vary widely. Drivers that want the highest possible level of safety should look for a model with a 5-star rating from NHTSA, a Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS, or like the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, both.

What it means to you: The latest Malibu gets the same 5-star safety rating as the 2013 model that preceded it while improving on its IIHS score by acing the institute's new small-overlap front crash test.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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