CARS.COM — The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is having a great week for safety accolades. On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that the SUV had earned the top score in its five-star safety program. Today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced that the newly refreshed Santa Fe Sport ranks among the most crashworthy cars as a Top Safety Pick Plus.
According to IIHS, a "beefed-up occupant compartment" boosted the 2017 Santa Fe Sport's score in the stringent small overlap front crash test to good from the 2016 version's marginal rating. That, combined with its optional front crash prevention system, took the SUV from receiving no IIHS safety designation the past model year to its top distinction for the current model year. IIHS rates these test results on a scale of good, acceptable, marginal and poor.
"Prior to the changes, the midsize SUV's structure failed to hold up in the small overlap test, which replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole," IIHS said in a statement. "Intrusion measured as much as 10 inches at the lower door hinge pillar. The dummy's head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off, as the steering column was pushed to the right."
The 2017 model, however, maintained the driver's space well with maximum intrusion of just 3 inches at the footrest, while the dummy's movement was well controlled and its head stayed on the airbag until rebound.
As is necessary to earn Top Safety Pick Plus, the Santa Fe Sport also received good ratings in moderate overlap front, side, roof-strength and head restraint evaluations. It also got a mandatory superior rating for its available front crash prevention system, which was shown to avoid collisions at 12 and 25 mph. Front crash prevention systems are rated on a scale of superior, advanced and basic.
A day earlier, NHTSA awarded the 2017 Santa Fe Sport a five-star safety rating. The SUV earned scores of five in frontal and side-crash tests, and four stars in the rollover test, for an overall score of five; those results were identical to its predecessor's.
The Santa Fe Sport's IIHS ratings match those of competitors for the 2016 model year, including the Subaru Outback and Nissan Murano, both of which received Top Safety Pick Plus ratings; IIHS has not yet rated those vehicles for the new model year.