Two vehicle manufacturers-Hyundai and Subaru-garnered the lion's share of the highest-level safety awards for 2018 presented by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
This year, vehicles must receive a good or acceptable rating passenger-side protection in the small overlap front crash test to get the institute's highest ranking. The 2018 Subaru Impreza, Legacy, Outback and WRX models earned the institute's highest Top Safety Pick+ award when those models are equipped with Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology and LED steering responsive headlights.
The IIHS gave the award to only 15 vehicles, compared to 69 a year ago.
This year, only 15 vehicles met the stricter criteria for the TPS+ award and another 47 earned the regular TPS (without the +) award.
"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".
"We rate headlamps because when we look at how they light up the road many of them aren't doing a very good job", said Lund.
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The Institute's headlight ratings also are relatively new, with the first ones being released in March 2016.
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. Check out the full list of models that qualify. Automakers have pledged to make it a standard feature by 2022.
The 2018 list of the safest vehicles is out, and just 15 earned the highest rating, down from 69 past year. In order to meet the top ranking, and in some instances, simply being a "Top Pick", the vehicle must be upgraded.
"Cars are safer now than they ever have been", Lund believes with even more improvements in crash test performance and headlights, vehicles will be even safer down the road.
IIHS is placing more emphasis on the impact of headlights on the safety rating of new vehicles. Over the years, IIHS has added to and strengthened criteria for both awards, pushing automakers to speed up safety advances.