The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe earned the highest safety rating bestowed by the IIHS, the non-profit safety agency announced Wednesday.
A new set of LED headlights shined the way for the mid-size crossover SUV to earn the industry's highest safety rating of a Top Safety Pick+ award. Redesigned for 2021, the Santa Fe five-seat crossover earned a Top Safety Pick award for earning top "Good" ratings on all six crash tests and for having a standard automatic emergency braking system that earned "Superior" ratings in avoiding crashes with other vehicles and pedestrians.
For 2022 Santa Fe models built after July 2021, the top Limited and Calligraphy trims come equipped with LED projector headlights rated at "Good" by the IIHS. The LED reflector lights on the SE and SEL trims rate "Acceptable," but were criticized for inadequate visibility on the sides of the road. The previous iteration of headlights on SE and SEL, made before August 2021, rated "Poor," due to excessive glare for oncoming motorists. That appears to have been corrected with the upgraded headlights.
Headlight efficacy is important to the insurance-industry funded IIHS because most car crashes happen at night. A vehicle cannot earn the TSP+ award with standard headlights that don't rank at least "Acceptable."
Automakers have adjusted headlights during a model year to meet the tougher criteria imposed by the IIHS and earn a TSP+ designation. Raising the safety bar seems to be working. For 2020, when the IIHS instituted the tougher headlight protocol, 64 models earned a TSP+ award; for 2021, more than 106 models have earned a TSP+. Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Kia and Genesis, earned 12 TSP and five TSP+ awards. It's working to bump more models up to the TSP+ designation, such as the Santa Fe.
Every 2021 Volvo model earned a TSP+, but Hyundai has a much broader lineup. Smaller automakers Subaru and Mazda also had equal success.