Manufacturers have made improvements in headlights and that has paved the way for more Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards.  -  Photo:  pexels.com/Shaan Johari

Manufacturers have made improvements in headlights and that has paved the way for more Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards.

Photo: pexels.com/Shaan Johari

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has bestowed its highest safety recognition — the Top Safety Pick+ award — on 65 models from a wide cross-section of automakers. Another 36 models garnered the second-tier Top Safety Pick award.

The IIHS credits improved headlights for pushing more vehicles into the top tier. Noteworthy, for the 65 “plus” award recipients, good or acceptable headlights must come standard across all trims yet a total of 31 models come exclusively with good-rated headlights. This shows a real commitment on the part of automakers to upgrade this very basic and essential safety feature.

As for manufacturer rankings, Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands, and Volkswagen Group which includes the Volkswagen and Audi brands, lead the way with the most 2022 awards overall.

Specifically, Hyundai Motor Group boasts 21 total awards — 11 Top Safety Pick+ and 10 Top Safety Pick awards. Volkswagen Group rolled away with 11 total awards — eight of which are “plus” status and three Top Safety Picks.

Coming in third place overall, Volvo captured strictly the highest tier award, with 10 of its vehicles earning “plus” recognition.

Minivans and pickup trucks did better at standing up to IIHS’ strict safety standards in 2022 than they did in 2021. Four minivans qualify for awards this year, compared with only two in February last year. This year’s winners include the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica, and Kia Carnival.

Four pickup trucks — the Ram 1500 crew cab, Ford F-150 extended cab and crew cab and the Hyundai Santa Cruz — also made the winners list. Only the Ram 1500 crew cab qualified for an award at the time of the initial 2021 Top Safety Pick announcement.

In addition to many vehicles offering improved headlights — and all of them earning good ratings in six rigorous crashworthiness tests — this year’s contenders also made significant strides in crash prevention systems. Manufacturers made vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention standard on more models.

In fact, front crash prevention that earns an advanced or superior rating in both evaluations comes standard on all but two Top Safety Pick+ winners and 30 out of 36 Top Safety Pick winners.

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