The 15 Safest Vehicles for 2018

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has revved up its standards: The number of vehicles earning its top award has dropped sharply.

The 15 Safest Vehicles for 2018 Photo by Money Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Only 15 cars have earned the highest safety rating awarded by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for 2018. That’s down from 38 vehicles for 2017.

The nonprofit IIHS strengthened its requirements for the recently announced 2018 awards.

To earn IIHS’ highest rating — Top Safety Pick+ — a vehicle now must have what the institute considers:

  • “Good” headlights
  • “Good” or “acceptable” passenger-side protection in small-overlap front crashes

Small-overlap crashes, as defined by IIHS, “involve just the front corner of the vehicle, bypassing the main structural components.”

IIHS started rating vehicles for driver-side protection in small-overlap crashes in 2012. But this is the first year that passenger-side protection in such crashes has been required to earn an IIHS award.

Adrian Lund, IIHS president, says:

“Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are. 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.”

As for headlights, the institute’s track tests measure how well both low and high beams illuminate the road ahead, as well as the amount of glare they produce for drivers of oncoming cars.

Previously, a vehicle with “acceptable” or “good” headlights could earn the Top Safety Pick+ award. For 2018, a “good” headlight rating was required.

The 15 vehicles that earned IIHS’ top honor for 2018 are:

  • Kia Forte sedan (small car)
  • Kia Soul (small car)
  • Subaru Impreza four-door sedan and four-door wagon (small car)
  • Subaru WRX (small car)
  • Subaru Legacy (midsize car)
  • Subaru Outback (midsize car)
  • Toyota Camry (midsize car)
  • BMW 5 series (large luxury car)
  • Genesis G80 (large luxury car)
  • Genesis G90 (large luxury car)
  • Lincoln Continental (large luxury car)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan (large luxury car)
  • Hyundai Santa Fe (midsize SUV)
  • Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (midsize SUV)
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC (midsize luxury SUV)

These are all 2018 model-year vehicles. If you are in the market for a used car — which we recommend — you can view past winners of IIHS awards on the institute’s “Top Safety Picks by year” page.

IIHS notes that two auto manufacturers dominated the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ award: Hyundai Motor Co. makes six of the vehicles listed above and Subaru makes four of them.

Hyundai Motor Co. manufacturers the Hyundai brand as well as the Kia and Genesis brands.

For more tips on car shopping and saving money on car costs, check out Money Talks News’ autos webpage.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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