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The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe won a coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+, but only for select trim levels produced after a specific date. Hyundai gave its small crossover SUV a refresh in 2021, giving the Santa Fe more power, opulent cabin styling, and a hybrid version. To get the award, the automaker has also prioritized car safety.

So, how did the latest Hyundai Santa Fe earn the IIHS’ top safety award? And which models earned it?

IIHS Top Safety Pick+ winners for 2022

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, IIHS Top Safety Pick+
Only certain 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe models won IIHS Top Safety Pick+ | Hyundai Motor America

The 2022 winners of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards are out. The IIHS gives awards to the vehicles that perform best in the institute’s crucial crash testing and other safety evaluations. The IIHS awarded its first Top Safety Pick designations in 2006, and the Top Safety Pick+ awards followed in 2013.

According to the IIHS, different vehicle sizes are tested in separate categories, and the tests get tougher as time passes. Since safety criteria change over time too, different model years aren’t always comparable.

To earn a Top Safety Pick+ award, winners must excel in all tests with a score of at least “good” on all. In 2020, the IIHS allowed a score of good or acceptable for the vehicle’s headlights as long as all models — not just some trims levels — met that quality level.

To earn the TSP+ award, the vehicle must also achieve a front crash prevention rating of advanced or superior in vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian situations.

Not all 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe models earned Top Safety Pick+

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe earned the highest award — Top Safety Pick+ — for meeting all the requirements. But there’s a caveat: The SUV received good and superior ratings across all tests aside from the headlights. For that, the IIHS specified that only models produced after August 2021 have acceptable headlights and earned TSP+.

The headlights on the Santa Fe SE and the SEL built before August 2021 didn’t earn the minimum acceptable rating for the TSP+ award. The low beams were good on straightaways and provided good visibility to the left and right of the road. On curves, visibility was good on sharp left and right curves. However, the headlights on the SE and SEL trims built before August 2021 didn’t make the grade in gradual left curves, the IIHS reports.

The agency also notes the low beams on those models produced excessive glare. However, the high beams compensated for the low beams’ inadequacies on the straightaway and on the left and right sides of the road.

Overview of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

The 2022 Santa Fe is sized between compact and midsize SUVs. Consumer Reports notes that Hyundai reworked some controls, and now they are less intuitive. In addition, the base engine is underwhelming and gets loud when pushed.

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder produces 191 hp. With less power, the eight-speed automatic transmission has to shift frequently. And its shifting isn’t the smoothest, CR reports. The front-wheel-drive base model needs 10 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph.

The Santa Fe’s optional turbocharged engine harnesses 277 hp for better performance. But the engine pairs with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that’s plagued by low-speed vibrations. The CR team favors the hybrid model, with its small turbocharged four-cylinder and electric motor. It comes with a six-speed automatic transmission to round out the powertrain, making 225 hp.

The cabin is spacious and offers a comfortable ride. The elevated position of the driver’s seat gives a great view of the road. Plus, there’s plenty of cargo and storage space.

As for advanced safety features, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV comes standard with forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Starting with 2022 models, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alerts are also standard across the lineup. And for greater safety for families, a motion-detection feature provides important reminders to check the back seat once the engine is off.


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