The Toyota Camry is back on a list that it has traditionally been featured on every year—Consumer Reports' recommended list.
It lost that status in October because it had done poorly on a critical crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
(Read more: Toyota slammed by Consumer Reports)
On Thursday, the institute released its annual report on safest vehicles, and the Camry was among 39 models designated a Top Safety Pick. That designation allowed it to regain its spot on Consumer Reports' recommended list.
"We're raising the bar with this list of Top Safety Picks," said IIHS President Adrian Lund. "The new list shows state of the art safety for 2014."
This year, the institute has made it tougher for vehicles to earn that distinction.
The criteria include the small overlap crash test, which measures how well vehicles protect the driver and passengers when the front end on the driver's side hits a barrier at 40 mph. It's a test the institute has added in recent years because small overlap collisions are among the most common—and often deadliest—crashes on the road.
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"There are enough models that have been tested, and automakers have been improving the design of models, that we feel this should be part of the basic Top Safety Pick award," Lund said.
Collision avoidance systems rewarded
The institute has added a new designation—Top Safety Pick Plus—for those models that not only perform well in crash tests, but also have collision-avoidance systems. These systems alert drivers and automatically kick in braking features that stop the car before it rear-ends another vehicle.
Collision avoidance systems have become a more popular feature in new vehicles, so the institute is now testing how well those systems work at 25 mph.
(Read more: Safe! This model tops crash avoidance tests)
The popularity of the systems is one reason there are more 2014 Top Safety Pick Plus vehicles than regular Top Safety Pick vehicles.