Tougher IIHS Crash Tests Leave Only 15 Top Safety+ Picks
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced its 2018 award winners. Just 15 vehicles qualified for the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award from IIHS, with another 47 earning TOP SAFETY awards, for a total of 62 winners.
Earning the highest "plus" award was tougher this year after requirements were strengthened to put more emphasis on headlight safety and passenger-side protection.
Better Passenger Protection Needed
Surprisingly, this is the first year that a passenger-side crash test has been included to qualify for an IIHS award. The first official passenger-side ratings were released in October, following research tests last year. The Institute said it added the passenger-side "small overlap front crash" test this year after realizing that some manufacturers weren't paying enough attention to the passenger side.
Back in 2012, IIHS began rating vehicles to see how well they protect drivers during small overlap crashes, which involve just the front corner of the vehicle. IIHS said automakers have acted more quickly to improve protection on the driver side than on the passenger side.
"Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are," says IIHS President Adrian Lund. "Manufacturers have been taking this issue seriously since we first shed light on it, and we're confident that good small overlap protection will become the norm on the passenger side, just as it has on the driver side."
Headlight Safety Also Now Key
IIHS explained that its headlight ratings also are relatively new, starting just last year in March 2016. In the beginning, few models performed well in IIHS track tests that measure the tradeoff of how well low beams and high beams illuminate the road, while not producing too much glare for oncoming drivers.
"Headlights have long been treated as design elements instead of the critical safety equipment that they are," Lund says. "We're pleased to see this changing. Every one of the 62 award winners for 2018 is available with headlights that are at least acceptable."
And the Winners Are...
Most of the TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards went to two manufacturers: Hyundai and Subaru. Toyota was also a big winner in the "top" category.
The biggest winner, with six TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards, was Hyundai Motor Co., which also owns Kia and Genesis in addition to Hyundai.
Subaru came in second with four "plus" awards, while Mercedes-Benz earned two. Toyota, BMW, and Ford earned one each.
Overall, Toyota could be viewed as the biggest winner, with 10 vehicles on the TOP SAFETY PICK list. Hyundai was close, with nine.
Subaru also impressed, with all but one of its seven vehicles (the BRZ) earning a TOP SAFETY PICK award. When equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights, the Subaru Impreza, Legacy, Outback and WRX all qualified for the "plus" award, while Subaru's Crosstrek and Forester earn "top" awards.
See below for the full list of winners.
Across manufacturers, the vast majority of winners qualified only when optionally equipped because front crash prevention and acceptable or good headlights still are not part of their base packages.
Looking ahead, IIHS said most automakers have pledged to make auto-braking technology standard on virtually all passenger vehicles over the next five years, by 2022. While autobrake is available today, it remains mostly optional, especially on nonluxury brands.
IIHS pointed out that Toyota is an exception and is ahead of the game with its safety features. Almost all Toyota and Lexus models include standard autobrake and other advanced features. Seven models that include autobrake as a standard feature also come standard with acceptable or good headlights, and qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK without any added options. The seven models include the Toyota Camry, Corolla, Prius, Prius Prime, and Highlander, and the Lexus IS and NX.
Sorry Minicars, Size Matters
IIHS summarized the 15 TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners as "four small cars, three midsize cars, five large luxury cars, two midsize nonluxury SUVs, and one midsize luxury SUV."
No minicars, minivans, or pickups earned the highest award. Although models from a wider range of vehicle types earned TOP SAFETY PICK awards, there were no minicars in that category either.
Pushing for Safer Vehicles
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been recognizing vehicles with TOP SAFETY PICK awards since the 2006 model year to help consumers identify vehicles with the highest safety ratings without having to wade through information about individual tests.
The TOP SAFETY PICK+ accolade was introduced in the 2013 model year, with the "plus" to recognize vehicles that offer a superior level of safety. By adding and strengthening criteria for its top awards, IIHS says it has helped push automakers to implement car safety advances.
15 Top Safety Pick+ Winners
Kia Forte sedan
4-Door Sedan / 4-Door Wagon:
Large Luxury Cars:
BMW 5 series
Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan
Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Midsize Luxury SUV:
47 Top Safety Pick Winners
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
Hyundai Elantra GT
4-Door Sedan / 4-Door Hatchback:
Toyota Prius Prime
Midsize Luxury Cars:
Alfa Romeo Giulia
BMW 3 series sedan
Midsize Luxury SUVs:
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