The coming year will be the first that required a good or acceptable rating for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small-overlap test, which measures how well front seat passengers are protected in frontal collisions, according to Consumer Reports, and many cars did not meet those new criteria to earn the top rating.
This year the criteria proved a bit more hard to meet.
Forty-seven vehicles made the institute's second tier Top Safety Pick for 2018 after it added a requirement for good or acceptable headlights to qualify - down from 50 a year ago.
The institute rates front crash prevention by conducting low- and moderate-speed track tests of vehicles with automatic braking systems.
IIHS assesses a vehicle's crashworthiness with six tests: moderate overlap front, driver-side small overlap front, (new) passenger-side small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints and seats.
"We are trying to send a message to the auto makers that we do want them to improve the protection for their customers", said IIHS president Adrian Lund.
In contrast, headlights weren't factored in for 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK, and an acceptable headlight rating was enough to bump a 2017 award victor into "plus" territory.
The Institute's headlight ratings also are relatively new, with the first ones released in March 2016.
New model-year 2018 vehicles to earn the plus designation include the BMW 5 Series; Genesis G80 and G90; Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport; Kia Forte sedan and Soul; Lincoln Continental; Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and GLC; Subaru Impreza, WRX, Legacy and Outback; and Toyota Camry. The sole Subaru model that did not qualify was the BRZ.
The full list of Top Safety Pick winners is available here.
Across manufacturers, the vast majority of winners qualify only when optionally equipped because front crash prevention and acceptable or good headlights aren't part of their base trims.
The IIHS is also raising it's standards for headlights. By fall of 2017, 69 vehicles had earned 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ and 51 had earned 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK.