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. Toyota has 10 model-year 2018 vehicles on the Top Safety Pick list, and Hyundai represented with nine.
Fifteen vehicles qualified for the Top Safety Pick Plus Award from the institute after the requirements were strengthened to include good-rated headlights and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes. In addition to the headlights score, to earn a 2018 Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must also get good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
The IIHS gave the award to only 15 vehicles, compared to 69 previous year. It was this test that caused the significant drop in the number of vehicles earning the top rating. The institute said it devised a passenger-side small overlap front crash test because some manufacturers weren't paying enough attention to the issue.
"We are trying to send a message to the auto makers that we do want them to improve the protection for their customers", 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. The BRZ is the only Subaru model that doesn't qualify. Models from a wider range of vehicle types earn TOP SAFETY PICK, but there are no minicars in that category either. Automakers have pledged to make it a standard feature by 2022. 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.
The IIHS is also raising it's standards for headlights. In order to meet the top ranking, and in some instances, simply being a "Top Pick", the vehicle must be upgraded.
"The improvements in occupant protection have been wonderful over the past decades", says Lund.