Need a ride? Top auto safety picks for 2018

These 15 vehicles are IIHS' top safety picks for 2018

And this year the IIHS is making the criteria more hard for automakers to earn a top grade.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says it's pleased with how well manufacturers are making the grade for the upcoming year.

The number was actually down from a year ago and the new crash tests were not the only reason why.

Vehicles that come with auto-braking also earn high marks.

To qualify for Top Safety Pick+ status, a vehicle has to score at least a Good rating for headlight illumination and a Good or Acceptable rating for passenger-side small-overlap crash tests. But this year the group added a new test: Crashes to the front on the passenger side.

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"Most drivers when they buy a vehicle they think the passenger is going to be protected as well as they are".

Another 47 vehicles earn the Top Safety Pick Award, which now requires acceptable or good headlights.

"That company had six Top Safety Pick+ winners there", Lund said.

This year, the Impreza, Legacy, Outback, and WRX took home the Top Safety Pick+ designation. Previously, only the vehicle's performance in the driver's side was tested. IIHS first began conducting driver-side small overlap crashes in 2012. This is meant to simulate a vehicle hitting a tree or utility pole.

Vehicles the IIHS studied included small cars, midsize cars, large luxury cars, midsize SUVs and midsize luxury SUVs. Toyota had the most vehicles on the top safety pick with 10 winning the award. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

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