TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — Only fifteen 2018 vehicles qualify for the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, after the requirements were strengthened to include good-rated headlights and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in front crashes.
Another 47 vehicles earn the Top Safety Pick award, which now requires acceptable or good headlights. Headlights weren’t factored in for 2017 Top Safety Pick, and an acceptable headlight rating was enough to bump a 2017 award winner into “plus” territory.
The inclusion of a passenger-side crash test is a first for any IIHS award. The Institute developed the passenger-side small overlap front crash test after it became clear that some manufacturers weren’t paying sufficient attention to the passenger side as they made improvements to achieve better performance in the driver-side small overlap front test.
The Institute’s headlight ratings are based on tests that measure how well low beams and high beams illuminate the road ahead on the one hand, and the amount of glare they produce for drivers of oncoming vehicles on the other.
The 15 Top Safety Pick+ winners include four small cars, three midsize cars, five large luxury cars, two midsize non-luxury SUVs and one midsize luxury SUV.
No minivans, pickups or mini cars earn the highest award. Models from a wider range of vehicle types earn Top Safety Pick, but there are no mini cars in that category either.
Most of the Top Safety Pick+ awards go to two manufacturers: Hyundai Motor Co. — which owns the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands — has six models earning the award, and Subaru has four. Mercedes-Benz has two, while Toyota, BMW and Ford Motor Co. have one each.
Toyota Motor Corp. has the most vehicles on the Top Safety Pick list. Hyundai is the runner-up with nine. All but one of the seven vehicles in Subaru’s 2018 lineup earn one of the awards. The Impreza, Legacy, Outback and WRX qualify for Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights. The Crosstrek and the Forester earn Top Safety Pick, also with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights. The BRZ is the only Subaru model that doesn’t qualify.
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 say they’ve pledged to make autobrake standard on virtually all passenger vehicles by 2022, but for now the technology remains mostly optional, especially on nonluxury brands. An exception is Toyota, which has equipped all but a handful of Toyota and Lexus models with standard autobrake and other advanced features. Seven models with standard autobrake — the Toyota Camry, Corolla, Prius, Prius Prime and Highlander and the Lexus IS and NX — also have standard acceptable or good headlights and qualify for Top Safety Pick without any added options. The addition of optional curve-adaptive headlights that earn a good rating boosts the Camry to Top Safety Pick+.