IIHS Top Safety Rating: Only 15 Cars Make Cut for 2018

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is releasing its picks for the safest cars of 2018.

"We did see a big reduction in the number of vehicles that earned top safety picks this year because we raised the bar, but people shouldn't think that vehicles are less safe, they are safer than they have ever been before", Lund said.

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. It also required vehicles to have acceptable or good headlights for the first time to earn a Top Safety Pick award.

IIHS has been recognizing vehicles with TOP SAFETY PICK since the 2006 model year to help consumers identify vehicles with the highest safety ratings without having to wade through information about individual tests. All but one of the seven vehicles in Subaru's 2018 lineup earn one of the awards.

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IIHS assesses a vehicle's crashworthiness with six tests: moderate overlap front, driver-side small overlap front, (new) passenger-side small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints and seats.

"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.

Headlights weren't factored in for the 2017 Top Safety Pick, and an acceptable headlight rating was enough to bump a 2017 award victor into the "plus" category. Check out the full list of models that qualify. With 15 of those earning its highest award despite tougher criteria requiring better headlights and enhanced passenger side protection. The highly-rated headlights, for example, do not come standard on base models and many vehicles lack crash avoidance technology. In order to meet the top ranking, and in some instances, simply being a "Top Pick", the vehicle must be upgraded. It began measuring both how well low and high beams illuminated the road and the amount of glare they produce for oncoming vehicles as part of its ratings in 2016.

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