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.
The institute rates front crash prevention by conducting low- and moderate-speed track tests of vehicles with automatic braking systems.
"We developed this test when it became clear that some manufacturers were not paying attention to the passenger side", said Adrian Lund, IIHS president.
Rather than design elements, Lund said headlights should be treated as safety features to help avoid a crash at night.
Also relatively new are the headlight ratings, which were first instituted in March 2016, and the initial results were poor. Only 15 of them earned the highest honors. The Crosstrek and the Forester earn TOP SAFETY PICK, also with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights.
Here is a link to all the top safety picks, which includes the reasons why they were chosen.
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. The sole Subaru model that did not qualify was the BRZ.
The vast majority of award winners only qualify when optionally equipped with front crash prevention and acceptable or good headlights aren't part of their base trims, the institute said. In order to meet the top ranking, and in some instances, simply being a "Top Pick", the vehicle must be upgraded.
IIHS is placing more emphasis on the impact of headlights on the safety rating of new vehicles. If the pattern holds, they'll have to score a good rating next year to make the 2019 list.
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