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

Hyundai and Volkswagen's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings, but Hyundai scored slightly higher. Safety upgrades may reduce your car insurance rates by up to 8%.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The Volkswagen Atlas and two Hyundai midsize SUVs received awards for their overall safety capabilities from the IIHS in 2017
  • Despite the IIHS safety awards, there are considerable differences in safety test results between the Atlas, Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Sport
  • Each vehicle analyzed for safety by the IIHS is reviewed across eight unique safety tests.

When you are trying to decide which of the many stunning midsize SUVs for 2017 you should buy, you may be comparing the following factors to make the best decision possible:

  • features
  • sales prices
  • reliability factors
  • warranty details

You should not overlook the importance of safety ratings when making a buying decision. It is easy to assume that all SUVs in this class would have similar safety ratings in most areas because the brands are all reputable and established.

However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has carefully and comprehensively analyzed each midsize SUV in various safety categories, and the variations in some of the test results may be surprising to you.

The Volkswagen Atlas, the Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe Sport models are all popular midsize SUVs that have a great overall reputation in the marketplace, but one of these models clearly ranks much higher than the other two in the realm of safety ratings.

Remember that safety ratings can influence auto insurance rates as well as your well-being when driving down the road.

Carefully comparing the safety ratings for the midsize SUV models that you are thinking about buying is important. Use our FREE comparison tool to find auto insurance rates today!

What the IIHS Safety Tests for the Volkswagen and Hyundai Midsize SUVs Reveal


The IIHS does not issue a single, blanket safety score to each model that it analyzes. Instead, it explores safety capabilities for each model in greater detail across eight individual tests.

It further classifies these eight tests into three main categories for easier comprehension and analysis.

As you examine the results for the Volkswagen and Hyundai SUV models, you will discover that most categories have one of the following ratings:

  • Good
  • Average
  • Marginal
  • Poor

When you reach the Front Crash Prevention test, however, you will see that this safety test only has been rated as follows:

  • Superior
  • Advanced
  • Basic

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Reviewing the Safety Ratings

The three primary categories reviewed by the IIHS are Crashworthiness, Crash Avoidance and Mitigation, and LATCH. LATCH has no sub-categories for tests.

The five tests included under the Crashworthiness section include Roof Strength, Side, Front Small Overlap, Front Moderate Overlap, and Head Restraints and Seats.

Headlights and Front Crash Prevention are the two safety tests grouped together under the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation category.



Your vehicle may be more or less protective of you and other occupants in the event of a collision, and this is what the five safety tests in the Crashworthiness category analyze.

A “good” rating was given to the Volkswagen Atlas, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, and Hyundai Santa Fe for all five of these safety tests.

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

The Crash Avoidance and Mitigation category tells you more about how well a vehicle may avoid crashes altogether or minimize how severe a crash may be.

The two Hyundai SUVs in this vehicle class had the highest rating of “superior” for Front Crash Prevention. While the Atlas also had a “superior” rating, it had a slightly lower overall rating.

For the Headlights test, the 2017 Santa Fe received a score of “good.” The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport had a “poor” rating, and the Atlas had a “marginal score for the Headlight test.

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Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

You may plan to use child safety seats to keep your youngest passengers safe and secure in your new SUV, but you will need to properly fasten these seats to the car seat anchors in your SUV.

The LATCH test for child seat anchors tells you how easy this step is to accomplish.

Both of the Hyundai SUV models reviewed in 2017 had an “average” grade for the LATCH test, and the Atlas only scored a “marginal” test result.

2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+


If you are trying to make heads or tails out of all of these safety ratings, keep in mind that the IIHS has rated the 2017 Santa Fe at the top of its list in this vehicle class, and it also gave this model the title of 2017 Top Safety Pick+.

This means that it scored the highest grades for all five of the Crashworthiness tests as well as higher scores for the Headlights and Front Crash Prevention categories.

The 2017 Top Safety Pick honor was given to the other two vehicles analyzed here include.

The requirements for this award are the same for the Top Safety Pick+ award, except there is no requirement for the Headlights test results.

Is Hyundai safer than Volkswagen in 2017 for midsize SUVs?

They 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is notably at the top of the IIHS list of safety test results, but the other Hyundai model and the Volkswagen model have relatively high ratings overall.

The main differences between these three vehicles are in the LATCH and Headlights categories.

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Compare Quotes for Auto Insurance Today

If you want to make the best automotive buying decision possible for your needs, remember that you need to find an affordable vehicle that you can comfortably manage to own and use.

Auto insurance costs are partially impacted by safety ratings, and other factors can affect insurance premiums as well.

Because there are so many factors that cause premiums to increase or decrease, it is necessary to compare insurance premium quotes before you make a final buying decision.

Use our FREE comparison tool to find auto insurance rates today!

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