Just when it looked like every new car on the road would earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick Plus designation, the rules get changed and the winners are winnowed down considerably.

Only 22 models now earn the IIHS' top award, coveted enough that it shows up endlessly in car advertising. To have won it, cars not only had to ace front, side, head restraint and roof crash tests, but the "small overlap crash test," which simulates crashing into a pole on the driver's side of the car.

That last test has been bedeviling automakers since it was introduced. Cars that had been on recommended lists for years suddenly found themselves failing. Automakers scrambled and make sure they could pass. Hence, Consumer Reports magazine today restores Toyota Corolla to its recommended list now that it passes the IIHS tests.

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Automakers See Fewer Top Safety Picks After IIHS Toughens Standards

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