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'Safest' cars list almost doubles for 2015

2015 Honda CR-V
Source: Honda Motors
2015 Honda CR-V

The number of vehicles earning one of the top two ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has nearly doubled for 2015 despite the industry's ongoing recall problems.

A total of 71 vehicles have earned either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, the insurance industry research arm said Tuesday, up from just 39 models during 2014.

That's even though it was tougher to earn the top rating in 2014.

"This is the third year in a row that we are giving automakers a tougher challenge to meet," said IIHS President Adrian Lund, who stressed that the industry is "greatly improving" its crash protection.

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That's at both the passive level—in terms of improved vehicle crash structures—and with the new active safety systems designed to prevent a crash.

The news might come as a surprise to some American motorists considering that the U.S. auto industry will end the year have recalled over 60 million vehicles, nearly double the previous peak. But Lund said that shows the industry is trying to address the growing focus on safety.

Check out the full list of safest cars here.