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The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe is a popular two-row midsize SUV that is well-known for its entry-level price and stylish exterior. While the Santa Fe has a relatively weak engine – the Santa Fe comes standard with a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque – its ability to be a pleasant and attractive people-mover keeps it well-loved. Even the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued it its top award, the Top Safety Pick+, meaning the Santa Fe safety ratings are pretty much perfect – as long as you don’t buy one particular trim. 

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe on the road
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe | Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe safety ratings are nearly perfect

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe scores good marks in nearly every category of crashworthiness, safety systems, and headlights. While a few acceptables dot its otherwise green Hyundai Santa Fe safety ratings results, there’s one area with a glaring red box – headlights. 

The headlights on one particular trim level of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe are ranked poor out of a possible good, acceptable, marginal, and poor rating. While that doesn’t preclude the Santa Fe overall from receiving the IIHS’ top safety award, it does mean you’ll want to pay attention when you’re car shopping. Both the Santa Fe SE and SEL trim levels built before August 2021 have a poor headlight rating from the IIHS. 

The IIHS safety ratings are important   

Maybe poor headlights don’t seem like a huge deal to you. After all, if the headlights work, that’s good enough, right? Wrong. Because more than half of all fatal car accidents happen at night, despite there being far fewer vehicles on the road, headlights are supremely important. That’s one of the reasons the IIHS has made the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards dependent on good headlights being available. 

The Top Safety Pick+ award has been around since 2013, and it’s given only to vehicles that ace all the safety ratings tests. These measure things like crashworthiness, crash prevention, and headlights in vehicles like the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe.

To win a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must get a good rating in all six crashworthiness categories. It also must have front-crash prevention systems with advanced or superior ratings. At least one headlight system out of all available has to be acceptable or good. To win the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must have good or acceptable headlights standard on every available trim level.

The IIHS keeps consumers safe


Critics Can’t Agree on the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

The IIHS is a non-profit that tests vehicles and shares the results of their tests with consumers. This allows people to make informed decisions about what they buy. By issuing safety ratings and awards, consumers are more aware of potential issues with their vehicles. Car manufacturers also have more accountability. The IIHS’ tests have evolved to keep pushing safety standards higher, which is a huge bonus for everyone. That’s why the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe’s safety ratings are so important.

Although a vehicle winning the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award is a definite positive when you’re car shopping, not all vehicles with these awards are equal. The IIHS says, “These awards identify the best vehicle choices for safety within size categories during a given year. Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford more protection than smaller, lighter ones. Thus, a small car that qualifies for an award might not protect its occupants as well as a bigger vehicle that doesn’t earn the award.”

If you’re looking for a super safe two-row midsize SUV, you just might love the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe. That is, as long as you don’t buy either the SE or SEL models built before August 2021. Those two trim levels are lacking the equipment necessary to be some of the safest vehicles on the roads.