The 2019 Subaru Ascent (shown) was one of the top-performing vehicles in crash testing that included the small front overlap test.
 - Photo courtesy of IIHS.

The 2019 Subaru Ascent (shown) was one of the top-performing vehicles in crash testing that included the small front overlap test.

Photo courtesy of IIHS.

Only 30 2019-model-year vehicles have named a Top Safety Pick+, while another 27 have earned Top Safety Pick awards in a year in which the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has raised the bar, the vehicle safety evaluator has announced.

For a vehicle to earn 2019 Top Safety Pick+ recognition, the institute now demands a good rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test versus an acceptable or good rating for the 2018 award. For the second-tier, 2019 Top Safety Pick, an acceptable or good rating in the passenger-side test is a new criterion. Vehicles must meet the most strict criteria the institute has set since 2013.

In addition, the 57 vehicles in both categories scored good ratings in five other rigorous crashworthiness tests conducted by the institute. Finally, all 57 vehicles also feature available automatic emergency braking systems that garner advanced or superior ratings for front crash prevention.

However, according to the institute, the majority of award winners qualify only when optionally equipped because good or acceptable headlights and an advanced- or superior-rated front crash prevention system aren't part of their base trims.

Launched in 2006, the Safety Pick program has influenced automakers to improve safety systems. For example, among the 57 vehicles that qualify for one of the 2019 awards, 31 offer standard front crash prevention systems.

2019 Top Safety Picks+

The 2019 Hyundai Sonata (shown) performed well in the small front overlap test to gain a Top Safety Pick+ award.
 - Photo courtesy of IIHS.

The 2019 Hyundai Sonata (shown) performed well in the small front overlap test to gain a Top Safety Pick+ award.

Photo courtesy of IIHS.

As for the kind of models and brands that fared best so far in the 2019 awards, cars and SUVs comprise the majority of Top Safety Pick+ winners.

With seven models earning the recognition, Subaru captured the most 2019 Top Safety Pick+ awards for the Ascent, Crosstrek, Impreza sedan and wagon, Legacy, Outback, and WRX.

Taking second place is Hyundai Motor Co., which owns the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands. Hyundai and Kia nameplates earned four and five Top Safety Pick+ awards, respectively, while Genesis captured three.

Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Motor Corp., with its Lexus brand, qualified for three Top Safety Pick+ awards. BMW, Honda, and Acura picked up two Top Safety Pick+ awards. Mazda earned one Top Safety Pick+.

2019 Top Safety Picks

The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica (shown) performed well in the small front overlap test and other crash tests to gain a Top Safety Pick.
 - Photo courtesy of IIHS.

The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica (shown) performed well in the small front overlap test and other crash tests to gain a Top Safety Pick.

Photo courtesy of IIHS.

The second-tier award went to mini cars and minivans, and everything in between.

The Subaru Forester compact SUV captured a 2019 Top Safety Pick as did the BMW X2, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3, and Mitsubishi Outlander in the small SUV category.

Overall, Hyundai earned a total of six Top Safety Pick awards — three of which are in the small car category. Kia took home three Top Safety Picks for the Kia Rio four-door sedan, the Kia Soul, and the Kia Cadenza.

Several other models — among them midsize cars, large cars, and midsize luxury cars — also captured Top Safety Pick recognition.

However, several models to qualify for either award. These include Fiat Chrysler's Dodge, Jeep, and Ram brands; Ford and its Lincoln brand; General Motors' Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands; and Tesla. In addition, Volvo hasn't yet qualified for a 2019 award due to missing passenger-side small overlap front test results.

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