Sometimes, all it takes to pick up a safety award is a better set of peepers.
The 2019 Mini Hardtop 2 Door (the coupe, not the sedan) has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's second-best award, Top Safety Pick. It needs to carry certain optional equipment, but when it does, it can be considered one of the safer cars on the road.
The IIHS hands out its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards based on a number of criteria. For 2018, it must withstand a number of crash tests, in addition to providing a certain amount of crash prevention tech and headlights that meet the IIHS' criteria.
In the case of crash tests, the Hardtop 2 Door received the top score ("Good") in all crash tests, with the exception of this year's new passenger-side small-overlap test, in which it was not rated (it doesn't factor into this year's TSP evaluation either). When equipped with optional forward collision warning and autobrake, the Mini scrubbed enough speed in 12-mph and 25-mph tests to earn a score of "Advanced."
The real reason for its Top Safety Pick award, though, is the headlights. Last year, the Mini's optional LED headlights only received a score of "Marginal." Adjustments to the 2019 model brings that score up to "Acceptable," which made it eligible for Top Safety Pick, despite still creating some glare. The base halogen headlights are rated "Poor" for inadequate visibility in nearly every scenario.
The 2019 Mini Hardtop 2 Door is the only Mini to earn Top Safety Pick. Its parent company, BMW, has several vehicles on the list, including the 2018 2 Series and 2018 3 Series. The 2018 5 Series and 2018 X3 both earned Top Safety Pick+, the firm's highest accolade.