Is Hyundai’s safety rating for midsize SUVs better than Toyota’s?

Toyota and Hyundai's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings from the IIHS. Reduce your car insurance rates by up to 8% by installing new safety upgrades.

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UPDATED: Jun 2, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: Jun 2, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2017 Toyota Highlander were among the highest rated vehicles for by the IIHS, and they both received the esteemed title of Top Safety Pick+ for this year
  • Another Hyundai SUV and another Toyota SUV were also reviewed by the IIHS, and they received lower ratings overall
  • The safety features and capabilities of an SUV may play an important role in the cost of auto insurance premiums

When you are shopping for a new midsize SUV to purchase in the near future, you may be focused on important factors, such as:

  • passenger seating space
  • towing capabilities
  • standard features

While safety is a concern for many buyers, you may make the assumption that any vehicle in this class is generally safe to drive because of its size.

You may be interested to learn that the safety test results released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for the midsize SUV class have substantial differences in some important safety categories.

Because Hyundai and Toyota are popular brands that many SUV shoppers are interested in, you may be thinking about buying a Hyundai Sante Fe or Santa Fe Sport. You may also be taking a closer look at the Toyota Highlander or 4Runner.

Surprisingly, some of these SUV models had rather poor safety ratings, and some were at the head of the pack in this vehicle class.

Compare car insurance quotes for these different models. Enter your zip code into our free rate tool above to get started.

What the IIHS Safety Tests Tell You about Toyota and Hyundai Midsize SUVs

The process associated with buying a midsize SUV can be seemingly complicated in some cases. After all, there are dozens of factors that you may be analyzing in order to make a smart buying decision.

When you are ready to examine safety ratings for the Hyundai and Toyota models in the midsize SUV class, the IIHS safety test ratings are an excellent resource to rely on.

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The Eight IIHS Safety Tests

The first primary safety area that the IIHS has analyzed is the Crashworthiness area.

This unique category is broken into five safety test areas, which include:

  • Front Small Overlap
  • Head Restraints and Seats
  • Side
  • Roof Strength
  • Front Moderate Overlap

Together, these five test areas examine the vehicle’s ability to be protective of occupants if a collision occurs.

The second safety area reviewed by the IIHS is Crash Avoidance and Mitigation. This category is broken into separate tests for Headlights and Front Crash Prevention.

It explores how well a vehicle can avoid being in a collision and how effective it is in mitigating the severity of accidents.

Keeping little ones safe in your new SUV is an obvious goal for many drivers. If you intend to have younger passengers in your car who sit in car seats, analyzing the Child Seat Anchors LATCH category from the IIHS is important.

Through the test result for the LATCH category, you can learn if a vehicle’s design makes it easy to anchor car seats to the rear seating area of the SUV.

These test results are rated as follows in most areas:

  • Good
  • Average
  • Marginal
  • Poor

When you examine the Front Crash Prevention test area, however, you will notice that the ratings available are:

  • Superior
  • Advanced
  • Superior

Crashworthiness: How Well the Vehicle Protects Its Occupants

The two Hyundai models reviewed by the IIHS in 2017 and the Toyota Highlander received a “good” score for all five Crashworthiness tests.

The Toyota 4Runner, however, received a “marginal” score for the Front Small Overlap test, and it received a “good” rating for the remaining four Crashworthiness tests.

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation: How Well the Vehicle Avoids Accidents

The Hyundai Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Sport, and Toyota Highlander had a “superior” Front Crash Prevention result. The Toyota 4Runner, on the other hand, was not tested in this IIHS category.

The Headlights safety category generated at “good” result for the Santa Fe and an “average” result for the Highlander. The other two SUVs analyzed for Toyota and Hyundai in this vehicle class had a “poor” Headlights result.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH): How Easy the Anchors Are to Use

For the LATCH safety test, the Toyota Highlander had a test score of “good.” The two Hyundai models analyzed for the IIHS safety tests in the midsize SUV category had test scores of “average.” The 4Runner had a “poor” LATCH test result.

How the IIHS Recognizes Excellence in Safety

With the IIHS test results spanning across eight unique categories, you may find it difficult to accurately determine which of these four SUV models had the best ratings.

When you look at the IIHS awards for Top Safety Pick in 2017 as well as the award for Top Safety Pick+ for 2017, you can more easily see which vehicles have better overall safety ratings.

To earn either of these awards, vehicles must have the highest possible rating of “good” in each of the five Crashworthiness tests and an overall high rate in the Front Crash Prevention test area.

The few midsize SUV models that earned the more advanced Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS in 2017 had these same test results as well as a higher Headlights test result.

The Toyota 4Runner did not receive any special recognition from the IIHS for safety. The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport was acknowledged as the Top Safety Pick for 2017 award. The other two SUVs from Toyota and Hyundai received the Top Safety Pick+ commendation.

Is Hyundai safer than Toyota in 2017 for midsize SUVs?

The Highlander and Santa Fe are two of the highest rated SUVs in this class, and their only difference in ratings is in the Headlights and LATCH test areas.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport had a mid-range safety rating with the IIHS, falling short in the Headlights and LATCH test areas. The 4Runner was much lower on the list of safety test results.

It was not rated for Front Crash Prevention, and it scored low grades in LATCH, Headlights, and Front Small Overlap tests.

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What to Do before You Buy Your New SUV

Safety test results can help you to make a buying decision with your well-being in mind, and these test results and related safety statistics may also be analyzed by car insurance providers when you buy coverage for your new SUV.

Safety details play a role in accident statistics, and insurance companies may offer better rates for safer vehicles.

Therefore, before you finalize your shopping plans and decide on an SUV to buy, remember to request a couple of insurance quotes from trusted auto insurance companies. By taking this important step, you can base your buying decision in part on the vehicle’s premium cost.

Get started comparing quotes today by using our free rate tool below.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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