2021 Hyundai Santa Fe and Elantra top trims earn Top Safety Pick awards

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe crossover SUV and 2021 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan earn a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS when equipped with certain headlights, the automaker announced Tuesday.

The Elantra and Santa Fe join seven other 2021 Hyundai models with a TSP recognition.

Both vehicles were redesigned for the 2021 model year and come loaded with standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high-beam LED headlights. The 2021 Santa Fe comes better equipped with standard blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control. 

The insurance-industry funded IIHS evaluates cars based on six crash tests as well as testing the efficacy of headlights and driver-assistance systems. For a car to meet the TSP criteria coveted by automotive marketers and appreciated by shoppers, the model must earn "Good" ratings on all six crash tests and come available with automatic emergency braking that earns at least an "Advanced" rating in avoiding or nearly avoiding a crash with vehicles and pedestrians at speeds of 12 mph and 25 mph. It also needs to earn the "Advanced" rating in tests that show a speed reduction at 37 mph to avoid or mitigate striking a pedestrian walking beside the road.

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line

Both Hyundai models received top "Good" ratings in crash tests, and both earned "Superior" ratings for their standard automatic emergency braking system. But the Elantra and Santa Fe didn't shine so bright in the headlight test conducted by the IIHS.

Since the IIHS toughened the criteria last year, TSP winners must be offered with headlights that rate at "Good" or "Acceptable," while TSP+ honorees must make those headlights standard. Only the Limited and Calligraphy—the top and most expensive trim levels of the Santa Fe—earned TSP status. The LED reflector lights standard on SE and SEL trims rated at "Poor" for creating excessive glare to oncoming drivers, as well as inadequate visibility with the automatic high beams. 

The Elantra Limited and its LED projector lights qualified for the award but the halogen projector lights on SE, SEL, and N-Line trims were rated "Poor" for inadequate visibility on curves. 

Hyundai may upgrade the headlights mid-year to meet the stringent headlight requirements of the IIHS, as other automakers have done in the recent past. For now, if you want a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe or 2021 Hyundai Elantra, only the most expensive versions of these models earn the industry's highest safety honor.

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