Results of tests completed by Thatcham, the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, this year, have seen a 64% reduction in models rated 'poor' compared with a similar study last year.
Thatcham tested more than 400 models at its crash research centre and found there had also been a 20% increase in models rated 'good'.
However some vehicles, predominantly older designs, are still scoring poorly.
Volkswagen's Bora, Mark Four Golf, Lupo and Passat are all rated 'poor'. The car maker defended the scores, claiming they were in part as a result of how the tests are conducted.
A Volkswagen spokesman said: 'Thatcham bases the tests on the assumption that the customer will not raise the headrest, keeping it at a low level.
'Models such as the old Golf do not have lockable headrests and can be knocked down, but the handbook explains how to set the headrest.
'All our new models have locking head restraints as standard equipment.'
Other models to get a poor rating include the Alfa Romeo 156, Audi A6, Land Rover Defender and Freelander, Mazda2, Seat Arosa, Skoda Octavia and the Rover 25.