Automakers are usually pretty quick to institute changes after less-than-stellar test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That's how Hyundai was able to earn a better safety accolade despite the car in question not having a second model year yet.
The 2018 Hyundai Kona has now earned the IIHS' top accolade, Top Safety Pick+. It was originally ineligible for the award after its headlights were rated Poor, the Institute's lowest rating, for creating excessive glare. However, after an update to the headlights was introduced to the assembly line in May, the model was retested and given a new rating of Good.
That was the only major point of improvement the 2018 Kona needed. It performed admirably in all of the Institute's crash tests, including the new-for-2018 passenger-side small overlap test, which has proven tricky for other automakers. The Kona received Good ratings for each crash test, which evaluates the vehicle above and beyond the crash test the federal government utilizes.
But the IIHS doesn't just test the vehicle's structures. In addition to the headlight evaluation, the IIHS also looks at and tests crash-prevention systems. With its optional automatic emergency braking system, part of the Tech package on the SEL trim and standard on the Ultimate trim, the Kona received the top Superior rating, avoiding collisions at both 12 and 25 mph.
The only real point of improvement left for the Kona is its child-seat latches, which do not have a minimum required score for Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+. The IIHS dinged the Kona for having latches that were too deep in the seat and were difficult to maneuver around.
The Kona joins a number of other Hyundai vehicles with either the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ designation, including the 2018 Elantra and Elantra GT, the 2018 Ioniq, the 2018 Santa Fe and the 2018 Santa Fe Sport.