2016 Hyundai Tucson, Sonata Earn IIHS' Highest Rating

16_Hyundai_Tucson_Top_Safety_Pick_Plus.jpg 2016 Hyundai Tucson; | IIHS image

The redesigned Hyundai Tucson made a major leap forward in its safety rating for the 2016 model year, earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highest designation, Top Safety Pick Plus. That’s thanks to structural and equipment improvements that helped it score a highest rating of good in IIHS’ stringent small front overlap test, on which the SUV had previously received a poor score. Meanwhile, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata sedan also moved up in the rankings thanks to the availability of a front crash prevention system this year.

Related: More Safety News

The Tucson’s extensive 2016 redesign included improvements that resulted in well-maintained driver space during the small overlap front test, as well as well-controlled movement of the crash dummy and properly functioning front and side curtain airbags to protect its head, IIHS noted. As is necessary for the Top Safety Pick Plus award, the Tucson also repeated its predecessor’s good ratings in the other four crash evaluations: moderate overlap front, side, roof-strength and head restraints. IIHS rates these test results on a scale of good, acceptable, marginal and poor.

“Measures taken from the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity,” IIHS said in a statement. “In contrast, when the previous generation of the Tucson was tested, the intrusion was severe, reaching a maximum of 16 inches at the parking brake pedal. The steering column moved in and to the right, causing the dummy’s head to slide off the left side of the front airbag. The head hit the instrumental panel, and the side curtain airbag didn’t deploy.”

The Sonata didn’t fare quite as well in the small overlap front test, repeating the 2015 version’s acceptable rating. However, its good ratings in all other evaluations in concert with the superior-rated front crash prevention system (also now available on the Tucson), earned the sedan the Top Safety Pick Plus award for 2016. Its front crash prevention system includes auto braking and forward collision warning, and it avoided collisions during testing at both speeds of 12 and 25 mph, IIHS reported.

According to IIHS, changes made by Hyundai to the driver-side seat belt and front suspension in an effort to improve the Sonata’s performance on the small overlap test fell short, and the acceptable rating of the redesigned-for-2015 version stuck. Come next year, the automaker will have to figure out how to improve that rating if it hopes to keep the sedan among the highest-rated, as IIHS notes that the standard for testing in 2016 will require a good rating on the small overlap evaluation.

The improved-for-2016 Tucson costs about $1,050 more than the 2015 Tucson, while 2016 Sonata shoppers will pay about $610 more over the 2015 sedan’s starting price (all prices include destination charges).

Latest expert reviews