The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is out with its list of the safest vehicles.
Over the last decade, vehicle safety has improved dramatically as automakers recognize that safety is a big selling point. To qualify for the TPS+ award, vehicles must also earn an acceptable rating in a new passenger-side small overlap front test introduced by the IIHS for 2018.
Scoring an acceptable rating for headlight visibility is enough for getting on the Top Safety Pick list but no longer for earning the coveted TPS+ award, which now requires a good rating unlike a year ago.
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. IIHS first began conducting driver-side small overlap crashes in 2012.
"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.
The 2018 list of the safest vehicles is out, and just 15 earned the highest rating, down from 69 a year ago.
Leading the way this year for the most top safety pick plus awards are Hyundai and Subaru. For small sized vehicles the Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Subaru Impreza and Subaru WRX came out on top. The Crosstrek and the Forester earn TOP SAFETY PICK, also with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights. All but one of the seven vehicles in Subaru's lineup, the BRZ, qualified for one of the awards.
Across manufacturers, the vast majority of winners qualify only when optionally equipped because front crash prevention and acceptable or good headlights aren't part of their base trims. Automakers have pledged to make it a standard feature by 2022. That list could grow, since IIHS has not yet reviewed all models and variations and plans to review more throughout 2018. In order to meet the top ranking, and in some instances, simply being a "Top Pick", the vehicle must be upgraded.
The Institute releases ratings as it evaluates new models, adjusting the list of winners throughout the year.