The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released its roster of 2017 Top Safety Pick+ winners, and the addition of a headlight-performance category has dropped the number of vehicles eligible for its highest ranking. For now, 38 models have earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating with 44 more meriting Top Safety Pick honors. 

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The IIHS introduced its new lighting criteria in the spring after discovering that government testing allowed for a wide disparity in the usable illumination headlights provide. It justified the change by noting that nearly half of all traffic deaths happen either in the dark or at dawn/dusk periods. Beyond excelling in the organization’s existing crash-related requirements, any vehicle hoping to earn TSP+ status from here on also must have forward lighting that merits either a “good” or “acceptable” lighting test mark. IIHS testing measures not only the distance a beam travels down the road but also how much glare it presents to oncoming traffic. The organization also gives additional credit for models that include automatic high/low beam switching.

At this time, only seven of the TSP+ winners boast available “good-rated” headlights: the Chevrolet Volt, Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Santa Fe, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Prius V and Volvo XC60. The IIHS said two other vehicles, the Infiniti Q70 and Hyundai Tucson, would have qualified as well, but option-bundling restrictions prevented the best lighting from being available in versions that also met all other TSP+ requirements. With nine vehicles on the list -- including the revised Corolla that now comes with Toyota’s TSS-P safety system -- Toyota/Lexus claimed the most TSP+ wins among automakers. Honda/Acura was second notching five TSP+ awards, including one for the new Ridgeline which became the first pickup to qualify for that distinction.

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"The field of contenders is smaller this year because so few vehicles have headlights that do their job well; but it's not as small as we expected when we decided to raise the bar for the awards," noted Adrian Lund, IIHS president. "Manufacturers are focusing on improving this basic safety equipment, and we're confident that the winners' list will grow as the year progresses."

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