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08 December 2017, 01:10 | Dale Webster
2018's Safest Cars
The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety says it's raising the bar for automakers, creating tougher test criteria to make sure vehicles can protect people in crashes and do more to help prevent crashes that can injure or kill. The new Camry outdid them all by earning the Top Safety Pick+ award, the IIHS's highest distinction and one much harder to earn in 2018. IIHS is now demanding better performance from auto makers when it comes to headlights and passenger protection in what are known as small overlap crashes - ones involving just the front corner of the vehicle.
Headlights also had to perform to standards in another new test in order to earn top ratings.
For 2018, IIHS said 47 vehicles earned its lower Top Safety Pick designation, which now requires acceptable- or good-rated headlights; headlights weren't a factor for the 2017 Top Safety Pick award. All but one of the seven vehicles in Subaru's 2018 lineup earn one of the awards.
The new passenger-side small overlap test marks the first time IIHS has focused a crash test on the front passenger's safety.
"Most drivers when they buy a auto they think the passenger is going to be protected as well as they are".
However, IIHS notes that the vast majority of the award-winners qualify only when optionally equipped because front crash prevention systems and acceptable or good headlights aren't often part of the base trims.
The Institute's headlight ratings also are relatively new, with the first ones being released in March 2016.
Leading the way this year for the most top safety pick plus awards are Hyundai and Subaru. For instance, automatic braking is a key requirement for the getting the "Top Pick Plus" rating, and in most vehicles, that comes at a significant price increase.
As more 2018 models are tested, IIHS will expand the list.
Automakers have pledged to make autobrake standard on virtually all passenger vehicles by 2022, but for now the technology remains mostly optional, especially on nonluxury brands.
"The improvements in occupant protection have been unbelievable over the past decades", says Lund.
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