M - For model-year 2018, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety strengthened its Top Safety Pick Plus award requirements - and just 15 vehicles qualified for the award during the agency's most recent round of testing.
Safety tests this year included a passenger-side crash test, a first for the IIHS award.
"We've been doing small overlap frontal crash tests on the driver's side since 2012 and we've seen a lot of improvement on that side, but we weren't seeing that kind of improvement for passengers, said IIHS president Adrian Lund".
To qualify for the rating, vehicles needed to earn a headlight rating of "good", and a "good" or "acceptable" rating for the passenger-side small overlap front test.
Headlights also had to perform to standards in another new test in order to earn top ratings. All of these new 2018 models show protection is a continued priority for the driving public. The latest awards are the first to factor in a passenger-side crash test. Toyota had the most vehicles on the top safety pick with 10 winning the award.
"Most drivers when they buy a vehicle they think the passenger is going to be protected as well as they are".
Two automakers make up much of the list. Toyota led the pack with 11 vehicles in the "Top Pick Plus" and "Top Pick" categories combined with Hyundai (9) and Subaru (7) taking the next two spots.
The vast majority of award winners only qualify when optionally equipped with front crash prevention and acceptable or good headlights aren't part of their base trims, the institute said.
Every Subaru model except the BRZ coupe earned the rating.
Although IIHS's standards keep getting tougher each year, Lund says automakers are stepping up and making safety adjustments to a vehicle's structure and equipment list accordingly.
Lund says because the most serious crashes happen at night, "we think it's important that manufacturers improve how lamps light up the road". In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers.
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