Insurance institute ranks vehicle safety

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is releasing its picks for the safest cars of 2018.

To earn the awards, vehicles go through a number of crash tests to show they can protect occupants in front, side, rollover and rear impact collisions as well as testing automatic emergency breaking systems.

Also relatively new are the headlight ratings, which were first instituted in March 2016, and the initial results were poor.

Another 47 vehicles earned the next-tier Top Safety Pick award with Toyota producing the most vehicles on that list, followed by Hyundai with nine.

The new passenger-side small overlap test marks the first time IIHS has focused a crash test on the front passenger's safety.

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.

Here is a link to all the top safety picks, which includes the reasons why they were chosen. How well a vehicle scored in a passenger-side crash test was also factored in.

"We developed this test when it became clear that some manufacturers were not paying attention to the passenger side", said Adrian Lund, IIHS president. Check out the full list of models that qualify.

"The improvements in occupant protection have been wonderful over the past decades", he said in a statement.

Despite safer vehicles, there was a 5.6 percent uptick in US auto crash deaths in 2016, the second consecutive year numbers were higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews.

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