Safest Cars of 2018: The List Has Shrunk to Just These 16 Models


I don’t think anyone second guesses their safety when they’re behind the wheel. Perhaps there are a couple exceptions for cars such as the Fiat 500 and the notoriously dinky Smart Fortwo – who’d feel safe in a collision with one of those cars? But after the 2018 IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus rankings, you might question how secure you actually are.

For 2018, only 16 models made the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus list. As a comparison, 69 models made the list in 2017. The severe decrease is due to more stringent criteria that now includes a “good” or “acceptable” rating for a passenger-side small overlap front crash-worthiness test. In addition, cars need to have a good rating in five other crash tests, an advanced or superior rating in front crash prevention, and good headlight ratings.

Thus, the field of the safest cars in 2018 has been whittled down to just these 16. Let us know – would you choose one of the following cars specifically because it’s on the safest cars list? Comment down below!

Safest Cars in 2018

2018 Kia Forte Sedan

It’s far from the most expensive vehicle listed here, but the 2018 Kia Forte is one of the safest cars you can buy. This is due to a modification in design for 2017 and beyond that reinforces the front end and the door structures. But it only applies to the sedan – the Koup doesn’t cut it.

For the 2018 Kia Forte sedan to get the 2018 IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating, it must be the EX trim equipped with Premium Plus package. It also needs the HID headlights with adaptive front lighting to get the nod.

2018 Kia Soul

One of only five small cars on the list of 2018’s safest cars is the 2018 Kia Soul. It might be a surprise as it looks like a sporty little subcompact SUV, but it ranks high up there. Don’t be fooled, though – only a very select Kia Soul fits the build as one of the safest cars.

The 2018 Kia Soul needs to have optional autonomous braking, as well as the Primo Lit package or Technology package where you’ll get HID headlights. That narrows down the field… a little.

2018 Hyundai Elantra

Squeaking onto the list is the Hyundai Elantra, but just a very select one. This economy model only counts if it was built after December 2017… as if you’re going to check the build date.


As well, you’ll have to select the 2018 Hyundai Elantra that is fully equipped, including optional automatic emergency braking, the Limited trim with the Ultimate Package for Forward Collision Warning, and curve-adaptive HID headlights.

2018 Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza is one of the only models with more than one body design that was a top safety pick – the sedan and the wagon both made the list. But, like the others so far, you need to configure your 2018 Subaru Impreza just right.

You’ll need the 2.0i Limited trim with EyeSight Driver Assist package to get LED projector curve-adaptive headlights. It’s only with the EyeSight package that the Impreza gets the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.

2018 Subaru WRX

The sporty four-door Subaru WRX is thought to be a rally car, and isn’t often thought of as one of the safest cars on the road. But, here it is, a deserving recipient. Its headlights have been improved for 2018, qualifying it for the list.

Alas, it’s the top end non-STi model once again (is there a theme here?). It has to have the EyeSight Driver Assist package with LED Steering Responsive headlights or it doesn’t make the cut.

2018 Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata is a popular midsize sedan, and it’s one of the safest cars too. It rates extremely high in crash ratings across the board, but the new headlight criteria kept it out of the running until 2018. To be exact, 2018 models built after September 2017.

When equipped with curve-adaptive LED projector headlights in the Limited Trim, along with the front crash prevention afforded to the Ultimate package and optional Automatic Emergency Braking, it gets the passing grade.

2018 Kia Optima

A spitting image of the Hyundai Sonata in almost every way, the Kia Optima qualifies for the 2018 IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award with a very specific model. It also must fit a build date – after January 2018.

You’ll need to choose the 2018 Kia Optima SX trim with the SX Technology package to get the required LED projector headlights. But only curve-adaptive, auto high-beam headlamps will do the trick. And you’ll need to choose the optional automatic emergency braking feature too.

2018 Subaru Legacy

Subaru has four entries which includes the 2018 Subaru Legacy sedan. It’s far from the top-selling midsize car in the segment, but perhaps being one of the safest cars will give it a boost.

The Subaru Legacy qualifies for the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating in just the Limited trim, either with the 2.5 liter or 3.6 liter BOXER engine. It has to have the EyeSight package with LED Steering Responsive Headlights.

2018 Subaru Outback

Our last Subaru on the safest cars list is the 2018 Outback, but only those built after September. The fun-to-drive wagon has AWD as standard equipment, but that doesn’t really factor in at all.

Like all our other Subaru models, the Outback needs to be equipped with the optional EyeSight package to qualify. Surprisingly, that includes more than one trim!  The 2.5i Limited trim with EyeSight Driver Assist package, 2.5i Touring trim 3.6R Limited trim equipped with EyeSight, and the 3.6R Touring trim all have what it takes.

2018 Toyota Camry


I know I expected more Toyota models on the safest cars list, but the Camry is the only one… plus a Lexus. The 2018 Toyota Camry slides into the IIH Top Safety Pick Plus list easily though, very well equipped on all trim levels, or at least it seems.

The only criteria the Camry must meet above its standard equipment is in the headlight category. The only trim level good enough is the XLE Hybrid trim with curve-adaptive, auto high-beam LED headlights.

2018 BMW 5 Series

As a luxury carmaker, you’d expect the top safety to come standard. Surprisingly, it doesn’t. The BMW 5 Series makes its way onto the safest cars list only if it’s equipped with a few key items.

The 2018 BMW 5 Series must have Frontal Collision Warning with Extended Collision Mitigation and the Driver Assistance Plus II package. As well, curve-adaptive LED headlights with high-beam assist must be equipped, but most – if not all — the trims have that option.

2018 Genesis G80

Two more Hyundai-family cars are on the safest cars list with the Genesis nameplate. The 2018 Genesis G80 has fantastic value and will definitely leave you flabbergasted at its standard content. Its base equipment is almost good enough to capture the 2018 IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating on its own, but falls short in one area.

To move from a Top Safety Pick to a ‘Plus’ rating, the Genesis G80 needs to add its available LED headlights. That’s easy enough, because they’re included in the 3.3T Sport trim and the Ultimate package with the 3.8L and 5.0L models.

2018 Lexus RC

The only coupe on the list is the Lexus RC. You’d expect it from Lexus too, but it’s a shock that only the RC makes the cut. After all, the car company is known as one of the safest on the road today.

The 2018 Lexus RC has standard Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Protection, which meets the front collision criteria. But the RC must also be equipped with the lesser headlight option, surprisingly, albeit still LED headlamps. The triple-beam LED headlamps aren’t as good in the rankings.

2018 Genesis G90

The only car on this safest cars list that qualifies with every trim level, no matter what, is the 2018 Genesis G90. Granted, it’s a luxury car with more options than you can shake a stick at. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s probably the best on the list overall.

LED Dynamic Bending Light Headlights, standard front collision avoidance features, and an impeccable cabin safety record make the Genesis G90 absolutely among the safest cars on the road.

2018 Lincoln Continental

Strangely missing are domestic models. Where are all the Fords, Chevy’s, Dodges, etc? The sole domestic model among the safest cars is this one, the 2018 Lincoln Continental. At least you can expect the premium brand from the Blue Oval to make an appearance.

The Continental makes the cut when it’s equipped with the Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Protection found in the optional Technology Package. Even more particular, only the Reserve trims with the Luxury package have the LED headlights that pass the testing criteria.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan

Mercedes-Benz E Class is one of the Safest Cars

Along with a single BMW model, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan is the only model from German car manufacturers to capture an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating this year. And it’s only the sedan, not the wagon, in the E-Class that does the trick.

It needs the Premium 3 Package with optional Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, otherwise the E-Class sedan is relegated to the lower Top Safety Pick rating.

Here’s a Breakdown of How the IIHS Makes Their Picks