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Here are the safest cars of 2020 so far, according to IIHS testing

After crash tests, evaluating headlights and active safety gear, 60-plus models came out on top.

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The Model 3 is just one of many winners.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced major changes to its award system for Top Safety Picks and Top Safety Pick Plus winners. In short, it became a lot harder for automakers to earn the two coveted titles.

On Thursday, we learned the first batch of cars that meet the more stringent criteria, and just over 60 models made the cut so far, according to IIHS testing.

The real stars are the Top Safety Pick Plus winners, which need to earn a Good rating in all crash tests, feature Advanced or Superior scores for front crash prevention (which now includes vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations) and come with standard Acceptable or Good rated headlights. The latter is a big challenge since automakers could simply make the higher rated headlights available on a various trims and still walk away with a Top Safety Pick Plus in 2019. It's not that easy this year.

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The standouts from the Top Safety Pick Plus winners include the Mazda3 and Mazda6, Mazda CX-5 and CX-3Toyota CamrySubaru Outback, Forester and LegacyHonda Insight and Nissan Maxima. These are the only nonluxury SUVs and sedans that met Top Safety Pick Plus criteria. Everything else resides at a luxury brand from Audi, Genesis, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. The Cadillac XT6, Acura RDX and Hyundai Nexo fuel-cell SUV are also included, though far more expensive than the average vehicle.

Additional winners include:

The Top Safety Pick roster shows far more depth with simpler criteria. Models need to also score a Good rating in all crash tests (a change from last year as well), score an Advanced or Superior rating in front-crash prevention but get away with simply offering Acceptable or Good headlights. They do not need to be standard equipment, essentially mirroring the old Top Safety Pick Plus criteria.

Winners by brand include:

Automakers can always resubmit their vehicles for a new round of testing following production changes. Notably, neither list does not include a single pickup truck.

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