Hyundai and Subaru Earn the Most IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2018

Gwen Vasquez
December 8, 2017

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is releasing its picks for the safest cars of 2018.

Most cars on the top pick lists only qualified when they came with optional equipment, such as automatic emergency braking.

New model-year 2018 vehicles to earn the plus designation include the BMW 5 Series; Genesis G80 and G90; Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport; Kia Forte sedan and Soul; Lincoln Continental; Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and GLC; Subaru Impreza, WRX, Legacy and Outback; and Toyota Camry.

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. And this year the IIHS is making the criteria more hard for automakers to earn a top grade.

Fifteen vehicles earned the IIHS's top safety pick award including several of Hyundai's Kia and Genesis models. The BRZ is the only Subaru model that doesn't qualify.

Rather than design elements, Lund said headlights should be treated as safety features to help avoid a crash at night. It's similar to the existing small front overlap test, a rigorous evaluation that crashes a vehicle into a barrier at 40 miles per hour with just 25 percent of the driver-side front end striking the obstacle.

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"We developed this test when it became clear that some manufacturers were not paying attention to the passenger side", said Adrian Lund, IIHS president. It's a drop from past year - and the new crash tests are not the only reason why.

"Most drivers when they buy a vehicle they think the passenger is going to be protected as well as they are". With 15 of those earning its highest award despite tougher criteria requiring better headlights and enhanced passenger side protection.

Also relatively new are the headlight ratings, which were first instituted in March 2016, and the initial results were poor.

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.

IIHS is placing more emphasis on the impact of headlights on the safety rating of new vehicles.

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