Two vehicle manufacturers-Hyundai and Subaru-garnered the lion's share of the highest-level safety awards for 2018 presented by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. And this year the IIHS is making the criteria more hard for automakers to earn a top grade.
Crash tests have been part of the IIHS's playbook for years to make sure drivers are protected, but this year it chose to add tests to see how well passengers are protected.
Scoring an acceptable rating for headlight visibility is enough for getting on the Top Safety Pick list but no longer for earning the coveted TPS+ award, which now requires a good rating unlike previous year.
"Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are", says IIHS President Adrian Lund.
No minivans or pickup trucks received a Top Safety Pick Plus award. The institute also tests headlight systems where IIHS engineers measure the reach of a vehicle's headlights on straight roads and on curves. 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 2018 Toyota Camry was one of only 15 vehicles to meet the criteria for the TPS+ award, while six other Toyota models and four Lexus models qualified for the regular TPS award, including the Toyota Avalon, Corolla, Prius, Prius Prime, RAV4, and Highlander. The Crosstrek and the Forester earn TOP SAFETY PICK, also with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights.
Subaru had the most Safety Pick+ vehicles. The sole Subaru model that did not qualify was the BRZ. Automakers have pledged to make it a standard feature by 2022. Over the years, IIHS has added to and strengthened criteria for both awards, pushing automakers to speed up safety advances.