Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Only 15 cars this year met tougher criteria for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating, the group announced Thursday.
Safety tests this year included a passenger-side crash test, a first for the IIHS award.
"Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are," IIHS President Adrian Lund said. "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."
Subaru, Hyundai and Toyota had the most vehicles selected for the rating. Toyota claimed 10 models, including the Camry.
Hyundai finished a close second with nine models, including the Santa Fe, Kia Forte sedan and Kia Soul.
Every Subaru model except the BRZ coupe earned the rating.
Other vehicles chosen for the Pick+ rating include Mercedes-Benz E-Class and GLC and the BMW 5 series.
To qualify for the rating, vehicles needed to earn a headlight rating of "good," and a "good" or "acceptable" rating for the passenger-side small overlap front test.
"The improvements in occupant protection have been amazing over the past decades," Lund said.
"All automakers now recognize the important role of safety in consumer choice, and they are increasingly receptive to working with our engineers to understand the next steps in keeping people from harm in motor vehicle crashes and to make real changes in their vehicle designs."
An additional 47 vehicles earned the Top Safety Pick rating.
IIHS has been recognizing vehicles with the Top Safety Pick rating since 2006.