Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Releases Latest List of Safest Vehicles

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has updated its Top Safety Pick+ requirements to include good-rated headlights and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes - and as a result, just 15 vehicles qualify for top honors. Hyundai, also the owner of the Kia and Genesis brands, produced six models earning the top award, while Subaru has four, the IIHS said in announcing its annual list.

"We're pleased to have so many vehicles recognized by IIHS, especially with the completely redesigned 2018 Camry receiving its highest safety award".

IIHS strengthened the criteria for the Top Safety Pick+ award for 2018 to require headlights to earn a "good" rating - an "acceptable" rating was previously enough to notch the "plus" award - and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in the small overlap front crash, which replicates a crash involving just the front corner of a vehicle.

Of the hundreds of auto models on the road today, only 15 have earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2018 due to tougher safety requirements when it comes to passenger side front collisions. Most of winners for both awards qualified on the basis of optional upgrades.

Crash tests have been part of the IIHS's playbook for years to make sure drivers are protected, but this year it made a decision to add tests to see how well passengers are protected.

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Another 47 vehicles earned Top Safety Pick honors from IIHS, with Toyota getting the most. The latest awards are the first to factor in a passenger-side crash test. Check out the full list of models that qualify.

The first official passenger-side ratings were released in October, following research tests previous year.

"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".

The Institute's headlight ratings also are relatively new, with the first ones being released in March 2016.

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