Hyundai’s 2019 Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell SUV, currently sold only in California, has earned the highest rating or Top Safety Pick Plus in testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for all vehicles built after June 2019 with improved standard headlights. It is the first fuel-cell vehicle to go through IIHS crashworthiness testing.
Testing a car with such limited availability is unusual for IIHS, but the insurance-industry-sponsored safety-testing organization said Hyundai nominated the SUV and IIHS saw it as “an early opportunity to evaluate a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.” The Nexo earned top marks in all crashworthiness tests by IIHS, which have toughened for 2019 with the added requirement for Top Safety Pick Plus of the highest score of good (out of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in IIHS’ new passenger-side small overlap frontal crash test.
The Nexo also got the top score of superior (out of superior, advanced, basic or none) for its standard forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking. The system avoided frontal collisions from both 12 mph and 25 mph in IIHS testing.
The Nexo also got the requisite good score for its only available headlight system for vehicles built after June when, IIHS said, Hyundai adjusted the lights’ factory aim “to provide better visibility, particularly through curves.” The headlights also have standard automatic high beams. Vehicles built before June have headlights previously rated as acceptable, which, along with the other test results, qualifies earlier Nexos variants for the second-level Top Safety Pick award from IIHS.
See how the Nexo stacks up against other more conventional mid-size luxury SUVs in IIHS testing here.
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