According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “2018 Top Safety Pick+” list
Every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the Top Safety Pick+ accolade to the safest vehicles it tests for crashworthiness.
With 2017 gone, the organization has released the 2018 IIHS Awards list which includes the safest cars tested last year and in previous years that are still on sale for 2018. Sadly, only 15 vehicles assessed by IIHS qualified for the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ award. That's because the organization strengthened requirements compared to the 2017 IIHS Awards to include good-rated headlights and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes.
The inclusion of a passenger-side crash test is a first for any IIHS award, as the organization noticed that some manufacturers weren't paying sufficient attention to the passenger side, instead focusing on getting good results in the driver-side small overlap front test.
47 vehicles earned the 2018 Top Safety Pick award, which now requires acceptable or good headlights. For comparison's sake, headlights weren't factored in for 2017 Top Safety Pick, meaning that an acceptable headlight rating was enough to elevate a 2017 award winner into "plus" territory. Not anymore though.
The 15 Top Safety Pick+ winners include four small cars, three midsize cars, five large luxury cars, two midsize non-luxury SUVs and one midsize luxury SUV. Sadly, no pickups, minivans or city cars earned the highest award.
Two manufacturers dominate the Top Safety Pick+ list: Hyundai Motor Company (Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Kia Forte sedan, Kia Soul, Genesis G80, Genesis G90) and Subaru (Impreza, WRX, Legacy, Outback). The remaining five cars are the Toyota Camry, BMW 5 Series, Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Now let's see how each of these 15 cars fared during IIHS crash tests, ordered from the smallest to the largest.
Kia Forte sedan
The Kia Forte sedan scored the maximum "Good" rating in all categories bar two. In the passenger-side small overlap front impact, it was deemed to offer "Acceptable" protection, with IIHS awarding it the same rating for the ease of use of the child seat anchors (latch).
The Kia Soul's score was identical with the Forte sedan, with maximum ratings in all categories except the passenger-side small overlap front impact ("Acceptable") and ease of use of the child seat anchors ("Acceptable").
Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon
Both the Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon managed perfect scores, with "Good" ratings in all categories as well as a "Good+" score for the ease of use of the child seat anchors — because it offers extra latch positions.
As with the mechanically-related Impreza, the Subaru WRX scored "Good" in all categories minus the ease of use of the child seat anchors which was only deemed as "Acceptable."
The Subaru Legacy midsize sedan achieved one of the highest scores in the 2018 IIHS Awards, with "Good" ratings overall, including a "Good+" for the extra latch positions of the child seat anchors.
Unsurprisingly, the Outback offers identical protection with the Legacy, as the wagon shares the same platform and body (up to the C-pillars) with the sedan.
Besides being America's best-selling passenger car, the Toyota Camry is also one of the safest, receiving maximum scores in all categories, including a "Good+" rating for the extra latch positions of the child seat anchors.
BMW 5 Series
Surprisingly for a luxury car, the BMW 5 Series didn't get the maximum score in every category. IIHS only rated it as "Acceptable" when it comes to the ease of use of the child seat anchors. Still, it remains a remarkably safe car.
The 5 Series competitor from Hyundai's upstart luxury brand did well, with the Genesis G80 achieving "Good" grades in every category minus the ease of use of the child seat anchors, where it was only rated as "Marginal."
The bigger G90 did better than its sibling, with an "Acceptable" mark for the ease of use of the child seat anchors. It achieved the maximum score in the rest of the categories, just like the G80.
Lincoln's flagship sedan managed an identical score with its competitor, the Genesis G90. As with most cars that made it to the Top Safety Pick+ list, the ease of use of the child seat anchors was only deemed "Acceptable."
Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan
The E-Class sedan proves to be a tiny bit safer than its arch-rival, the BMW 5 Series, thanks to a better score for the ease of use of the child seat anchors ("Good"). Everywhere else, the German model achieved top ratings. No videos and photos of the crash tests are available yet.
Hyundai Santa Fe & Santa Fe Sport
The only difference between the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport is that the former offer seven seats while the latter is a strict five-seater. It was only logical then that they earned identical IIHS ratings. The midsize SUVs received the maximum "Good" rating in all categories minus the passenger-side small overlap front impact ("Acceptable") and the ease of use of the child seat anchors ("Acceptable").
The midsize luxury SUV proved to be the safest among its peers, but not perfect. In the Crash Avoidance & Mitigation category, the GLC scored a 5 out of 6, while the ease of use of the child seat anchors was rated as "Acceptable." In all other categories, it got top ratings.
Vehicle safety has evolved tremendously over the last two decades. If you want to see how much safer new cars are compared to their predecessors, check out this video.