The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has honored 15 vehicles with their Top Safety Pick+ honor.
This year, vehicles must receive a good or acceptable rating passenger-side protection in the small overlap front crash test to get the institute's highest ranking.
To become an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, all vehicles must offer industry-leading front, side, rear, and rollover crash protection. 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.
The safety advocacy group, which performs a variety of crash tests on vehicles, added two new tests in the past year: one for improved headlights, which was included in the 2017 "Top Pick Plus" ranking, but not in the "Top Pick" results, and the new passenger-side small overlap front crash. Fifteen of those earning its highest award despite tougher criteria requiring better headlights and enhanced passenger side protection.
"Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are", IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a statement. Hyundai, which also includes the Kia and Genesis brands, lead the way with six Top Safety Pick+ winners.
IIHS has been recognizing vehicles with the Top Safety Pick rating since 2006.
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.
The IIHS which conducts crash tests and evaluates automobile safety standards says it's pleased with how well manufacturers are making the grade.
"The improvements in occupant protection have been unbelievable over the past decades", IIHS president Adrian Lund said in a statement.
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