CARS.COM — 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. In order to qualify, model-year 2018 vehicles now need to have good-rated headlights and get a good or acceptable rating in IIHS' newest evaluation, the passenger-side small overlap front crash test. The vehicles must also meet the previous requirements of scoring good in other crash tests and earning an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
New model-year 2018 vehicles to earn the plus designation include the BMW 5 Series; Genesis G80 and G90; Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport; Kia Forte sedan and Soul; Lincoln Continental; Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and GLC; Subaru Impreza, WRX, Legacy and Outback; and Toyota Camry.
Passenger Protection Promoted
The new passenger-side small overlap test marks the first time IIHS has focused a crash test on the front passenger's safety. It's similar to the existing small front overlap test, a rigorous evaluation that crashes a vehicle into a barrier at 40 mph with just 25 percent of the driver-side front end striking the obstacle.
"Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are," IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a statement. "Manufacturers have been taking this issue seriously since we first shed light on it, and we're confident that good small overlap protection will become the norm on the passenger side, just as it has on the driver side."
Top Safety Pick
For 2018, IIHS said 47 vehicles earned its lower Top Safety Pick designation, which now requires acceptable- or good-rated headlights; headlights weren't a factor for the 2017 Top Safety Pick award. In addition to the headlights score, to earn a 2018 Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must also get good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
Two automakers make up much of the list. Toyota has 10 model-year 2018 vehicles on the Top Safety Pick list, and Hyundai represented with nine. However, IIHS notes that the vast majority of the award-winners qualify only when optionally equipped because front crash prevention systems and acceptable or good headlights aren't often part of the base trims. Check out the full list of models that qualify.
Occupant-Protection Improvements 'Amazing'
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.
"The improvements in occupant protection have been amazing over the past decades," he said in a statement. "All automakers now recognize the important role of safety in consumer choice, and they are increasingly receptive to working with our engineers to understand the next steps in keeping people from harm in motor vehicle crashes and to make real changes in their vehicle designs."
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