New for 2018, the passenger side small overlap crash was added to the evaluations and a vehicle must also receive a "Good" or "Acceptable" rating.
Of the hundreds of auto models on the road today, only 15 have earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2018 due to tougher safety requirements when it comes to passenger side front collisions.
"Fifteen vehicles meeting these new tougher criteria for top safety pick plus is a good news story for consumers", said Lund.
This year, only 15 vehicles met the stricter criteria for the TPS+ award and another 47 earned the regular TPS (without the +) award. "We've been doing small overlap frontal crash tests on the driver's side since 2012 and we've seen a lot of improvement on that side but we weren't seeing that kind of for passengers".
"Most drivers when they buy a vehicle they think the passenger is going to be protected as well as they are".
Rather than design elements, Lund said headlights should be treated as safety features to help avoid a crash at night. Kia and Subaru models were among the highest rated; no minivans, pickups or mini-cars made the cut.
Here is a link to all the top safety picks, which includes the reasons why they were chosen. "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". Automakers have committed to making this technology standard by 2022.
As more 2018 models are tested, IIHS will expand the list. Initially, few performed well in IIHS 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.
The Institute releases ratings as it evaluates new models, adjusting the list of winners throughout the year.