CARS.COM — Hyundai lightly revised the Santa Fe’s styling for 2017 but made major upgrades in terms of crashworthiness. The three-row SUV earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highest honor, Top Safety Pick Plus.
Related: 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe: First Look
Having previously earned a marginal rating in IIHS’ stringent small overlap front evaluation, the 2017 version’s reinforced occupant compartment and modified seat belt improved that rating to good for 2017. IIHS said the outgoing Santa Fe sustained “extensive” structural damage to the driver’s space, with intrusion measuring as much as 10 inches. The crash dummy’s head also barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off the left side.
“Maximum intrusion was 4 inches at the lower door hinge pillar, and the safety belt and airbags worked well to control the dummy’s movement,” IIHS said of the 2017 model’s improved performance in crash tests.
It must be noted that the seat belt fix — and subsequent Top Safety Pick Plus designation — applies only to models manufactured after March 2016. The 2017 Santa Fe launched in February, before the seat belt modification was made.
The good small overlap front rating, combined with good ratings in the Institute’s moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints evaluations, as well as a superior rating for the Santa Fe’s new front crash prevention system with forward collision warning and auto emergency braking, earned the Santa Fe its latest safety stripes.
The 2017 Santa Fe is now highly competitive in terms of crashworthiness. It matches fellow Top Safety Pick Plus designee the 2016 Honda Pilot’s ratings exactly, while edging out the 2016 Toyota Highlander and its slightly lower advanced rating for front crash prevention. The 2016 Chevrolet Traverse, meanwhile, did not qualify for a Top Safety Pick award.