SAN ANTONIO – Fifteen model year 2018 cars and SUVs earned the highest safety honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The group put the vehicles through crash tests and new stiffer requirements.
The group crashed brand new vehicles at speeds of 40 miles per hour in the pursuit of safety. 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. Previously, only the driver's side faced that test.
"We developed this test when it became clear that some manufacturers were not paying attention to the passenger side," said Adrian Lund, IIHS president. "Drivers expect their passengers will be protected as well as they are."
Hyundai — which includes some Kias — and Subaru were the big winners, earning the most Top Safety Pick Plus awards.
Top Safety Pick Plus awarded vehicles:
Kia Forte (sedan only)
BMW 5 Series
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (sedan only)
Hyundai Sante Fe
Hyundai Sante Fe Sport
Mercedes Benz GLC
Another 47 vehicles earned Top Safety Pick honors from IIHS, with Toyota getting the most.
Headlights also had to perform to standards in another new test in order to earn top ratings.
"Too many headlights don't light enough road," Lund said.
Rather than design elements, Lund said headlights should be treated as safety features to help avoid a crash at night.
Most cars on the top pick lists only qualified when they came with optional equipment, such as automatic emergency braking. Automakers have committed to making this technology standard by 2022.
Lund said Toyota leads the way in making crash avoidance technology standard equipment.
As more 2018 models are tested, IIHS will expand the list.
List of 2018 vehicles earning Top Safety Pick:
Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda 3, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius Prime, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A3, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series (sedan only), Lexus ES, Lexus IS, Volvo S60, Volvo V60, Kia Cadenza, Toyota Avalon, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-3, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota Rav4, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Acura MDX, Acura RDX, Buick Envision, Lexus NX, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, Volvo XC60, Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline