The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s latest ratings for the all-new subcompact Hyundai Kona SUV are out, and the Kona performed admirably save for one critical area: headlights. The results might have Hyundai doing its best Jakob Dylan impression and saying, “Hey, hey, heyyyyyyyyy” after all trim levels of the Kona received a score of poor in headlight testing.
Base model Huyndai Kona SUVs equipped with halogen headlights don’t provide enough visibility, and the optional LED lights available on higher trim levels produce too much glare for drivers of oncoming vehicles, according to IIHS researchers.
That means that despite acing five IIHS tests — driver-side small overlap, moderate overlap and side crash tests, as well as roof strength and head restraint testing — and the top superior rating for its optional front crash prevention system, the subcompact Kona SUV is ineligible for a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus award. (It also hasn’t undergone the newly instituted passenger-side small overlap front crash testing yet.)
To be awarded a Top Safety Pick designation for 2018, a vehicle must receive a score of good in the five crashworthiness evaluations, earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention, and an acceptable or good headlight rating. For Top Safety Pick Plus, 2018 vehicles must also receive a good rating in the passenger-side small overlap front crash test and a good headlight rating.
For the safety-conscious searching for a small SUV, the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek received a Top Safety Pick Plus award, while the 2018 Mazda CX-3 is a Top Safety Pick. Both models, however, must be higher trim levels in order to qualify.
Given the relative ease with which headlights can be updated mid-production cycle — as opposed to, say, structural updates — it’s possible that Hyundai engineers could opt to make earlier-than-planned updates to the Kona to improve its safety rating standing among competitors. Then they can drive it home … with one headlight score.
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