Hyundai has really done a fantastic job developing the new generation Sonata. They successfully turned a boring economy-class sedan into a magnificent rather prestigious car, and yet somehow managed to keep its price at a very reasonable level! And now it turns out that it’s not just the new body and engine, the car’s actually engineered like a high-end European car. In terms of safety fro example, it has just become the new member of “Top Safety Pick” group of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Another good point for it to rub in Toyota’s face!
This award is only given to those vehicles that do a superior job protecting people in front, side, rear and rollover crashes. A car’s ability to handle itself in these crashes is determined by how many “GOOD” ratings it receives in each of the IIHS tests. Additionally, the vehicle must have electronic stability control readily available as an option.
Sonata is built from the ground up with safety in mind, with a hot stamped ultra-high-strength steel body structure, advanced airbag technology and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), delivering on Hyundai’s commitment to both active and passive safety technology leadership. Once again every 2011 Sonata has lifesaving ESC as standard equipment. This is important because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that ESC results in 35 percent fewer single-vehicle crashes and 30 percent fewer single-vehicle fatalities in passenger cars.
The Sonata also features a state-of-the-art Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) including Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Sonata features six airbags—including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags—along with active front-seat head restraints.
While past Hyundai models, such as the Genesis, have been named IIHS “Top Safety Picks,” the standards are higher than ever for 2010, with a roof strength test added to the qualifications. According to the new guidelines, roofs must be more than double the strength of current federal requirements in order to better maintain vehicle integrity in the event of a rollover accident.
Because this roof strength test is so demanding, many of the vehicles that had previously been named “Top Safety Picks” were dropped from the list in 2010. From the 2011 Sonata’s inception, Hyundai engineers carefully considered the importance of roof strength and designed the newest edition to pass this high hurdle set by the IIHS.
The other IIHS “Top Safety Pick” standards are stringent as well — the Institute’s frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle’s overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a dummy representing a 50th percentile male in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.
Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented dummies representing an average-sized woman, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle’s structural performance during the impact.
Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry — the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seat/head restraints with good or acceptable geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph.
It’s no coincidence that the 2011 Sonata joins company with the other “Top Safety Picks.” During development of the 2011 Sonata, Hyundai did its own crash tests using the same procedures as the Institute. When it came time for the actual IIHS’ tests, the Sonata achieved a “GOOD” rating in every category, reflecting Hyundai’s commitment to safety and engineering excellence.