Astute new car shoppers have long been checking the results of crash tests to see which new vehicles best protect their occupants in a crash. But in recent years a new research metric has emerged with regard to automotive safety systems that can help drivers avoid getting into a crash in the first place. The most significant of these is the forward collision mitigation system, which is also known as forward auto-braking. Bringing a car one step closer to autonomous driving, the system can determine if the car is closing in too quickly on another vehicle or other obstruction (some systems can keep an electric eye out for bicyclists and pedestrians as well), will sound an alarm, and then apply the brakes at full force if the motorist isn’t reacting quickly enough.

While availability of forward auto-braking is becoming more widespread, where its available it’s still largely limited to select trim levels and option groups within a given vehicle line. And as tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show, not all such systems are as effective as others in preventing or significantly reducing the effects of a collision. 

We sifted through current IIHS data to identify the midsize and full-size sedans from the 2017 model year that not only register top marks in the Institute’s five separate crash tests, but garner “Superior” ratings for forward crash protection. That means they’re able to avoid a crash or substantially reduce speeds in two separate tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph, but – and here’s the catch ­– only when they’re properly equipped. To that end, we’re noting the availability of forward collision mitigation systems with each top-rated model below and what each car costs when so equipped (including the destination charge).

1. Buick LaCrosse

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The stylish and roomy LaCrosse can be equipped with a forward auto-braking system for an added measure of safety, but it's only available with the optional Driver Confidence II Package on the top Premium model; price as equipped $43,680.

2. Chevrolet Malibu

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Chevy's midsize sedan offers an optional high-speed forward auto-braking system, but only on the top Premier model as part of the Driver Confidence Package II; price as equipped $34,040.

3. Chrysler 200

2017 Chrysler 200

Though the midsize 200 went out of production during the 2017 model year, you’ll still find ample stock on the lot at Chrysler dealerships. This applies to models equipped with the vehicle’s optional Full Speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking system that’s part of the Safety Tec package available in the top 200C Platinum version; price as equipped $31,080.

4. Ford Fusion

2017 Ford Fusion V6 Sport

Here's another midsize car that gets kudos for offering a Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection system, but again it's only available for 2017 on the top Titanium version as part of the Active Cruise Control package; price as equipped $33,940.

5. Honda Accord

2017 Honda Accord

Coupe and sedan models of the popular midsize 2017 Accord (the new 2018 is on the way) can be equipped with the vehicle’s optional forward auto-braking system across the line as part of the Honda Sensing package (it’s standard with the top Touring models); price as equipped $25,130.

6. Hyundai Sonata

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Both 2017 and 2018 versions of this handsomely cast midsize sedan can be fitted with the vehicle’s optional forward auto-braking system, which is part of the optional Ultimate Package offered with the Limited 2.4L model; price as equipped for 2017 $33,185.

7. Kia Cadenza

2017 Kia Cadenza

Both the Technology and Limited trim levels of this big and plush Kia sedan can be equipped with the car's optional Autonomous Emergency Braking system; price as equipped $39,890.

8. Kia Optima

Kia Optima

The Optima's "safest car" designation applies only to versions of this tastefully crafted midsize sedan built after March 2017 and equipped with the vehicle’s optional Autonomous Emergency Braking system. It’s optional with the SX version as part of the Premium Technology Package, and comes standard with the SX Limited trim level; price as equipped $35,635.

9. Mazda6

2017 Mazda6

You'll have to dig deep to obtain the safest version of this atypically sporty family car, as the Grand Touring trim is the only version to include Mazda's Smart Brake Support system; price as equipped $31,570.

10. Nissan Altima

Nissan Altima

Her's yet another midsize sedan in which only the top model (the SL version) can be equipped with auto-braking for 2017. It's called the Forward Emergency Braking system and is available as part of the Technology Package; price as equipped $32,445.

11. Nissan Maxima

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Forward Emergency Braking is included on all versions of Nissan’s sport-minded sedan; price as equipped $33,795.

12. Subaru Legacy

2018 Subaru Legacy

Limited and Premium models of this admirable midsize sedan can be equipped with a Pre-Collision Braking system as part of the optional EyeSight package; price as equipped $26,310.

13. Subaru Outback

2017 Subaru Outback

As with the above Legacy, the Outback's Limited and Premium models can eb equipped with a Pre-Collision Braking system as part of the available EyeSight package (it’s standard with Touring models); price as equipped $30,565.

14. Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon

Front auto-braking comes standard across the line on Toyota’s big near-luxury sedan (applies only to models built after March 2017); price as equipped $34,195.

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