New crash test decimates IIHS Top Safety Pick+ list

The number of vehicles carrying the top accolade dropped from 38 to just 15.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has once again strengthened its requirements to receive its top safety awards, and as expected, it resulted in a pretty serious culling of vehicles that were previously eligible.

The IIHS announced this week that just 15 vehicles initially qualify for the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ accolade, which is given to the vehicles that the IIHS has evaluated and ranked as the safest cars on the road, down from 38 vehicles last year. 47 vehicles are eligible for the second-place Top Safety Pick award, which has slightly less stringent requirements.

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Some automakers may have thought they could cheap out by only reinforcing the driver's side for the small-overlap test. Not anymore.


Two reasons exists for this herd-thinning. The first is an expansion of the headlight test, which was introduced in 2016. Now, in order to achieve Top Safety Pick+, a car must have at least one headlight setup that is rated Good, as opposed to last year's bar of Acceptable. In 2018, Top Safety Pick will require a headlight rating of Acceptable. Headlights are rated on illumination capability on straights and in corners, as well as how much glare they give off.

That second reason is an entirely new test -- the passenger side small-overlap test. This mimics the same IIHS test performed on the driver side, but the new test ensures that automakers are putting equal effort into protecting both front occupants, not just the driver. The test is new, and is likely to cause some consternation among automakers as they scramble to catch up to ever-changing targets.

While automakers are not mandated to score well in IIHS crash tests, the positive marketing that comes from it is hard to top. The tests are generally much tougher than those required by the federal government, which are the basic crashworthiness tests required for selling vehicles in the US. The IIHS is a non-government entity that only exists to help improve vehicle safety, even if some automakers believe it might have ulterior motives.

You can see the full list of 2018 Top Safety Pick award winners on the IIHS website, but the 15 winners of the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ award are listed below: