Most cars on the top pick lists only qualified when they came with optional equipment, such as automatic emergency braking.
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Fifteen vehicles earned the group's highest award of Top Safety Pick+, which is lower than a year ago. 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.
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Crash tests have been part of the IIHS's playbook for years to make sure drivers are protected, but this year it made a decision to add tests to see how well passengers are protected. The Crosstrek and Forester earn Top Safety Pick, also with option front-crash prevention and specific headlights. Check out the full list of models that qualify. It's similar to the existing small front overlap test, a rigorous evaluation that crashes a vehicle into a barrier at 40 miles per hour with just 25 percent of the driver-side front end striking the obstacle. "Manufacturers have been taking this issue seriously since we first shed light on it, and we're confident that good small overlap protection will become the norm on the passenger side, just as it has on the driver side".
The first official passenger-side ratings were released in October, following research tests previous year. With 15 of those earning its highest award despite tougher criteria requiring better headlights and enhanced passenger side protection. Adrian Lund, president, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
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The vast majority of award winners only qualify when optionally equipped with front crash prevention and acceptable or good headlights aren't part of their base trims, the institute said.