IIHS Releases 2018 Top Vehicle Safety Picks

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This year, 62 vehicle models earned the institute's top safety pick award.

Leading the way this year for the most top safety pick plus awards are Hyundai and Subaru.

Toyota, Hyundai, and Subaru were among the brands that ranked highest in the ratings overall, although BMW and Mercedes-Benz also had several models on the list.

The requirements for the highest-tier were strengthened to include good-rated headlights and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes, the IIHS said.

This year, 62 vehicle models earned the institute's top safety pick award. The IIHS gave the award to only 15 vehicles, compared to 69 past year. The Crosstrek and Forester earn Top Safety Pick, also with option front-crash prevention and specific headlights. It was this test that caused the significant drop in the number of vehicles earning the top rating.

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Headlights weren't factored in for the 2017 Top Safety Pick, and an acceptable headlight rating was enough to bump a 2017 award victor into the "plus" category. This new test sends a vehicle into a barrier at 40 miles per hour with just 25 percent of the vehicle's front end overlapping the barrier on the passenger side.

To qualify for either award, vehicles must earn the a good rating in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations, as well as earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

Crash tests have been part of the IIHS's playbook for years to make sure drivers are protected, but this year it made a decision to add tests to see how well passengers are protected.

"Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are", said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

Of the hundreds of auto models on the road today, only 15 have earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2018 due to tougher safety requirements when it comes to passenger side front collisions.