With new tougher standards in place for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's coveted "2018 Top Pick Plus" rating, just 15 vehicles earned the distinction compared with 38 for 2017. "And Subaru continues to be a standout with four of their vehicles winning Top Safety Pick+".
New for 2018, the passenger side small overlap crash was added to the evaluations and a vehicle must also receive a "Good" or "Acceptable" rating. 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.
But, even as it announces its top safety picks for 2018, an agency that evaluates vehicle safety says automakers can do even better.
The new passenger-side small overlap test marks the first time IIHS has focused a crash test on the front passenger's safety.
"Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are", IIHS President Adrian Lund said, according to Consumer Reports.
"That company had six Top Safety Pick+ winners there", Lund said. Kia and Subaru models were among the highest rated; no minivans, pickups or mini-cars made the cut.
"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.
The Institute's headlight ratings also are relatively new, with the first ones being released in March 2016. In order to meet the top ranking, and in some instances, simply being a "Top Pick", the vehicle must be upgraded. Initially, few performed well in IIHS track tests, which 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. Automakers have committed to making this technology standard by 2022.
"The improvements in occupant protection have been awesome over the past decades", says Lund.