CARS.COM — The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety updated the standards for the 2018 model year regarding its Top Safety Pick Plus designation, with an increased focus on passenger safety and headlight effectiveness. Since that update, only 15 vehicles qualified for the Top Safety Pick Plus award — and four of them are Subarus.
Related: IIHS Toughens Up Crash-Test Standards for 2018
Four model-year 2018 Subarus — when properly equipped — qualified as Top Safety Pick Plus winners under the more stringent testing: the Impreza, Legacy, Outback and WRX. Subaru's optional EyeSight safety system, as well as the optional Steering Responsive Headlights, are needed to meet IIHS' standards.
The Legacy, Impreza and Outback all won 2017 Top Safety Pick Plus awards under the previous standards. The WRX was rated a 2017 Top Safety Pick, a notch lower than the Plus designation, and has its improved headlight rating to thank for its new rating.
Both the Impreza, Legacy and Outback have also received five-star overall crash ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 2018 WRX has not yet been rated.
Of the Legacy's chief competitors, the redesigned Toyota Camry also received a Top Safety Pick Plus award. Others were awarded Top Safety Pick, including the redesigned Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima.
Both the Kia Soul and Forte sedan were also awarded Top Safety Pick Plus ratings for those considering alternatives to the Impreza. The Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra and Elantra GT were all awarded Top Safety Pick, as was the Mazda3 in both sedan and hatchback body styles.
No direct competitors with the WRX have either been tested or awarded by IIHS under the new testing regime, although the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI was a Top Safety Pick under the old standards. It would not qualify under the new standards due to its rating of poor in headlight testing.
The Outback competes against both wagons, of which there are few, and SUVs and crossovers, of which there are many. Both the Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs received Top Safety Pick Plus awards. The Audi A4 Allroad wagon is a Top Safety Pick for 2018, as are mid-size SUVs like the Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento, Toyota Highlander and Mazda CX-9.
To earn a Top Safety Pick Plus award now, a vehicle must score good ratings in driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It must also receive a good rating in headlight tests, score advanced or superior ratings for front crash prevention and, now, score either acceptable or good ratings in the passenger-side small overlap front test.
IIHS rates crash tests and headlights on a scale of good, acceptable, marginal or poor. Front crash prevention systems are rated on a scale of superior, advanced or basic.
Two other Subarus, the Crosstrek and Forester, earned Top Safety Pick awards when equipped with the same optional features. Top Safety Pick winners did not score as good or acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test, and received either good or acceptable ratings in headlight tests, but otherwise received the same scores as Top Safety Pick Plus winners.
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