15 vehicles earn highest safety rating from IIHS

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M - For model-year 2018, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety strengthened its Top Safety Pick Plus award requirements - and just 15 vehicles qualified for the award during the agency's most recent round of testing.

The IIHS is putting more focus on passenger safety this year with the addition of a new small-overlap front passenger crash test.

To qualify for the rating, vehicles needed to earn a headlight rating of "good", and a "good" or "acceptable" rating for the passenger-side small overlap front test.

Fifteen vehicles earned the group's highest award of Top Safety Pick+, which is lower than a year ago.

The institute rates front crash prevention by conducting low- and moderate-speed track tests of vehicles with automatic braking systems. The latest awards are the first to factor in a passenger-side crash test.

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"Doesn't mean that vehicles have gotten less safe, it really just reflects that we've raised the bar", IIHS President Adrian Lund told CBS.

And just a notch below was the Forester and Crosstrek earning the Top Safety Pick award when equipped with EyeSight and LED steering responsive headlights.

"We rate headlamps because when we look at how they light up the road many of them aren't doing a very good job", said Lund.

To become an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, all vehicles must offer industry-leading front, side, rear, and rollover crash protection.

The models that earned the top ranking for 2018 so far are the BMW 5 Series, Kia Forte sedan, Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport, Lincoln Continental, Kia Soul, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Subaru Impreza, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Subaru WRX, and Toyota Camry, according to Consumer Reports. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers.

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