Headlights weren't factored in for the 2017 Top Safety Pick, and an acceptable headlight rating was enough to bump a 2017 award victor into the "plus" category.
Two vehicle manufacturers-Hyundai and Subaru-garnered the lion's share of the highest-level safety awards for 2018 presented by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Leading the way this year for the most top safety pick plus awards are Hyundai and Subaru.
Only 15 vehicles qualified for what the institute calls its Top Safety Pick+.
Fifteen vehicles earned the group's highest award of Top Safety Pick+, which is lower than a year ago. Toyota claimed 10 models, including the Camry. Hyundai, also the owner of the Kia and Genesis brands, produced six models earning the top award, while Subaru has four, the IIHS said in announcing its annual list.
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. It was this test that caused the significant drop in the number of vehicles earning the top rating.
"We developed this test when it became clear that some manufacturers were not paying attention to the passenger side", said Adrian Lund, IIHS president. 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. In order to meet the top ranking, and in some instances, simply being a "Top Pick", the vehicle must be upgraded. 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.
They've also bumped up standards for headlights.
Lund said Toyota leads the way in making crash avoidance technology standard equipment. The track tests, which measure how well low beams and high beams illuminate the road ahead on the one hand, and the amount of glare they produce for drivers of oncoming vehicles on the other.