IIHS Releases 2018 Top Vehicle Safety Picks

Source CBS

Fifteen model year 2018 cars and SUVs earned the highest safety honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Mercedes-Benz has two while Toyota, BMW, and Ford have one each.

Fifteen vehicles earned the group's highest award of Top Safety Pick+, which is lower than previous year.

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Over the last decade, vehicle safety has improved dramatically as automakers recognize that safety is a big selling point. 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. Most of winners for both awards qualified on the basis of optional upgrades. This year, a new test was included - simulating what happens when the front corner of the passenger's side smacks into a tree or pole.

Headlights weren't factored in for the 2017 Top Safety Pick, and an acceptable headlight rating was enough to bump a 2017 award victor into the "plus" category.

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Here is a link to all the top safety picks, which includes the reasons why they were chosen. Check out the full list of models that qualify. The latest awards are the first to factor in a passenger-side crash test.

The first official passenger-side ratings were released in October, following research tests a year ago. "Our new test is to try to achieve that", said Adrian Lund, President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. With 15 of those earning its highest award despite tougher criteria requiring better headlights and enhanced passenger side protection.

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The Institute's headlight ratings also are relatively new, with the first ones being released in March 2016. However, IIHS notes that the vast majority of the award-winners qualify only when optionally equipped because front crash prevention systems and acceptable or good headlights aren't often part of the base trims.

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