Photo of 2015 Hyundai Sonata courtesy of Hyundai.

Photo of 2015 Hyundai Sonata courtesy of Hyundai.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata, when equipped with optional forward collision warning, has earned the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

To qualify for the coveted award, the car drew an “acceptable” rating in the challenging small overlap front crash test and a “basic” rating for front crash prevention. Additionally, the Sonata earned “good” ratings in each of the other four IIHS tests – moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.

"The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is not only engineered to protect people when crashes happen, but with its optional forward collision warning system rated basic in our tests, this car can help drivers avoid some of the most common kinds of collisions altogether,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

Hyundai redesigned the Sonata for the 2015 model year. The car's “acceptable” small overlap front rating is an improvement from the previous generation's “marginal” rating.

In the small overlap test, the driver's space was maintained well, IIHS said. During the test, however, the safety belt allowed the dummy's upper body to move too far forward. The dummy's head hit the steering wheel through the air bag, indicating that head injuries would be possible in a real-world crash of this severity. On the other hand, the side curtain airbag deployed and had sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with side structures.

IIHS added the small overlap evaluation to its testing lineup in 2012. In the crash, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. This replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or object such as a tree or a utility pole.

The Sonata has an optional forward collision warning system. IIHS rates vehicles as “basic,” “advanced” or “superior” for front crash prevention depending on whether they offer autobrake and, if so, how effective it is in tests at 12 and 25 mph. Forward collision warning systems that meet NHTSA performance criteria, as well as autobrake systems that provide only minimal speed reduction in IIHS tests, earn a “basic” rating.

The Sonata is the second Hyundai model to earn the institute’s highest award for 2014. To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn a “good” or “acceptable” rating for small overlap protection, a “good” rating in the institute's other four tests, and a “basic,” “advanced” or “superior” rating for front crash prevention.

The Sonata is available with a host of active safety features, such as forward collision warning, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, a lane departure warning system and rear parking sensors.

The 2015 Sonata is equipped with standard electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, traction control, ABS and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) with an individual tire pressure indicator.