For the 2023 model year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety introduced new and stricter safety standards for the Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick awards, which included better side-impact protection, improved crash-prevention tech, and better illuminating headlights. This easily explains why just 48 models were awarded with one of the institute’s two highest safety ratings and just recently, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz C-Class joined them with a Top Safety Pick+ rating.

The premium sedan from Germany meets all the requirements for the higher-tier award when equipped with the optional front crash prevention system, which comes with the Driver Assistance package. Even with the standard LED projector headlights, the C-Class earns a good rating in the category. Surprisingly, with the optional curve-adaptive LED headlights, that rating drops to acceptable. In the daytime and nighttime vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention tests, the 2023 C-Class gets superior ratings when fitted with the optional upgraded front crash system.

Gallery: 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Review

If you go for a C-Class with the standard crash prevention system, however, this car would be classified as a Top Safety Pick choice, the lower-tier award of the safety institute. While this vehicle receives a good rating in the daytime vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluation, it doesn’t perform as well in the nighttime test.

For the 2023 model year, the IIHS requires acceptable or good headlights across all trim levels for either the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award. Additionally, all cars now undergo a tougher side collision test with a heavier striking barrier hitting the test vehicle at a higher speed. The side impact test requires an acceptable or good rating for the Top Safety Pick award and a good rating for the Top Safety Pick+ award.

As a reminder, the current C-Class showed good performance in a recent moose test with a speed of 45 miles per hour (73 kilometers per hour) around the cones. According to the test driver’s report, the car felt very direct and controllable and there was minimal body roll, which made it very predictable in the corners.

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