The redesigned Sonata's new look belied an improved crash test in the difficult small overlap front test, where Hyundai's family sedan improved from a "Marginal" score to "Acceptable." Meanwhile, the Sonata's optional Forward Collision Warning system garnered a "Basic" rating on IIHS' three-tier rating scale for these sort of automatic safety systems.
Netting a spot on the Top Safety Pick + list requires a "Good" or "Acceptable" score on the small overlap test, as well as "Good" scores on the four standard tests and some form of automated safety system.
You can view the Sonata's crash test video below, as well as the full press release from IIHS. Scroll down and take a look.
ARLINGTON, Va. - The 2015 Hyundai Sonata, a midsize moderately priced car, earns the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, thanks to an acceptable rating in the challenging small overlap front crash test and a basic rating for front crash prevention.
The Sonata earns good ratings in each of the Institute's other four tests – moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.
Hyundai redesigned the Sonata for the 2015 model year. The car's acceptable small overlap front rating is an improvement from the previous generation's marginal rating.
In the small overlap test, the driver's space was maintained well. During the test, the safety belt allowed the dummy's upper body to move too far forward. The dummy's head hit the steering wheel through the airbag, indicating that head injuries would be possible in a real-world crash of this severity. The side curtain airbag deployed and had sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with side structures.
The Institute added the small overlap evaluation to its testing lineup in 2012. In the crash, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or object like a tree or a utility pole.
The Sonata has an optional forward collision warning system. The Institute rates vehicles as basic, advanced or superior for front crash prevention depending on whether they offer autobrake and, if so, how effective it is in the tests at 12 and 25 mph. Forward collision warning systems that meet performance criteria set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and autobrake systems that provide only minimal speed reduction in IIHS tests earn a basic rating.
The Sonata is the second Hyundai model to earn the Institute's highest award for 2014. To qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection, a good rating in the Institute's other four tests, and a basic, advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.