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New IIHS testing standards have knocked the safety ratings of several models, and now the 2023 Hyundai Sonata can add its name to the list. While still rated as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, the flagship Hyundai sedan has lost its Top Safety Pick Plus ranking thanks to the updated crash testing standards. See both where the Sonata falls short and where the fullsize Korean sedan still performs well.

The 2023 Hyundai Sonata N Line against a sunset
2023 Hyundai Sonata N Line | Hyundai

Side-impact tests expose safety issues in the 2023 Hyundai Sonata

Much like other models, the updated IIHS side-impact crash test saw the 2023 Hyundai Sonata safety rating fall from the top possible scores.

Specifically, the testing outfit rated the Sonata’s driver torso and pelvis injury susceptibility at Acceptable, knocking both scores down from the top mark.

For those in the back seat, the news is even more grim. Rear-seat passenger pelvis injuries were scored as “Marginal”, just one mark above the lowest possible ranking.

Overall, the safety cage in the 2023 Hyundai Sonata earned just an “Acceptable” rating in its most recent test, down from “Good” in years prior.j

Updated side-impact testing has changed ratings for several models

Interior of the 2023 Hyundai Sonata

While that news may seem bad, the Hyundai Sonata isn’t alone. Safety ratings are changing across the board due to new side-impact testing standards introduced in 2023. The new sled is 1,000 pounds heavier and travels 12 mph faster than in years past, to reflect higher speeds and weights of modern vehicles.

Even long-standing safety titans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry have seen their safety ratings slip, though the Sonata does fall short in more areas than those competitors.

Where the Hyundai Sonata performs well in safety tests

While the Sonata’s side-impact safety rating has taken a hit, the biggest Hyundai sedan still performs well in most other areas.

In both front and rear-end impacts, the Sonata earns top safety ratings across the board, protecting all occupants with airbags and a strong safety cell.

The Hyundai flagship’s advanced driver assistance systems perform well, too. In tests up to 25 mph, the Sonata is able to avoid collisions with stopped vehicles on the road ahead. The same is true for pedestrian detection and braking, where the Sonata can avoid collisions at up to 37 mph.

Hyundai’s headlights fall short

A rear exterior promotional photo of a red 2023 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan model
2022 Hyundai Sonata | Hyundai Motor America

The IIHS has a high standard for headlights that few models can meet, but the Sonata’s base headlights are particularly bad. Earning just “Marginal” scores with noted glare in nearly every scenario, the Hyundai’s  front lighting system is a pain point when compared to competitors.

Car seat attachments are also a knock on the Sonata. The lower tethers are difficult to find buried deep in the rear seat, and the center position has fewer tethers than highly-rated models.

Overall, the Sonata is still a good safety bet

While the 2023 Hyundai Sonata’s lower safety scores are a disappointment, overall the car still does well. We’re willing to give brands the benefit of the doubt in the first year of updated IIHS testing. We expect everyone to go back to the drawing board to aim for better scores now that the new standards are known.

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