Is Hyundai’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Fiat’s?

When comparing small SUVs and safety, the Hyundai Tucson edged out the Fiat 500x. It received the Top Safety Pick+ in 2017 while the 500x received the normal Top Safety Pick.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 3, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Small or compact SUVs, despite having some disadvantages over their larger cousins, have their own advantages in the form of increased maneuverability and minimized cost
  • It is important to always remember that size is not a guarantee of safety in a vehicle, and that two cars with similar sizes and weights may still vary greatly in crashworthiness if one manufacturer cut more corners than the other
  • Safety ratings are established through a partnership between the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Data Loss Institute
  • Each year, the IIHS and the HDLI work together to name the safest vehicles on the road, honoring them with the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+

When it comes to shopping for the safest vehicle on the market, your first instinct is often to look for the beefiest car you can find.

A pickup truck, a midsized SUV, anything to channel the feeling of a tank cruising down the highway but although this seems like a reasonable way to make your pick, the truth is that size is no guarantee of safety.

Compact SUVs are much more maneuverable than their larger cousins, and their increased gas mileage allows you to drive much further on much less. 

You should always remember that a vehicle is not necessarily safer because it’s bigger or heavier; each automobile’s level of safety is dependent on the work put into it by the manufacturer.

Compare the cost of insurance between makes and models of vehicles. Make sure you’re not paying too much for car insurance by comparing quotes using our free tool above.

Safety Testing: Organizations and Methods

For the most part, the field of safety ratings is consumed by a pair of non-profit organizations – the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Data Loss Institute (HDLI).

The HDLI is responsible for gathering and analyzing the various statistics created each year on America’s roadways, and the IIHS tests each year’s technologies using a modernized scientific method.

These two institutes date back more than 40 years and have been endorsed by both automotive companies and insurance groups. When it comes to each year’s testing, the IIHS analyzes

  • Environmental factors – focuses on dealing with the roadways themselves, such as obscured or unclear road signs.
  • Human factors – deals with matters of human failures, such as inexperienced or intoxicated drivers – this area also covers safety belts and issues of road fatigue.
  • Vehicle research – analyzes the vehicles themselves and usually constitutes the heaviest area of testing, using a variety of methods to test the automobile’s crashworthiness and crash mitigation abilities.


Hyundai v. Fiat

In 2017, the issue of overall compact SUV safety between Hyundai and Fiat comes down to a head-on collision between the Hyundai Tucson and the Fiat 500x.

Each vehicle has been tested and analyzed by the experts to illustrate their individual strengths and weaknesses. In areas of crashworthiness, or ability to withstand a collision, the vehicles are graded on the following scale:

  • Poor
  • Marginal
  • Acceptable
  • Good

Crash prevention or mitigation, however, is graded on a scale from Basic to Advanced to Superior.

Testing Results

In order to test crashworthiness, the IIHS evaluated each small SUV with a set of direct crash tests. For the most part, these tests focused on forcing the automobile to strike various kinds of barriers moving at 40 miles per hour and checking the damage.

The Hyundai Tucson set new standards this year by achieving the highest possible mark of Good in each area of crashworthiness while the Fiat 500x received similar scores in each area.

However, the Fiat 500x received no testing as to the passenger side’s crashworthiness, and this area’s lack of testing allows the Tucson to come out firmly on top.

When it came down to crash prevention, the IIHS tested each compact SUV for their ability to avoid a crash rather than withstand it – testing in this area came down to evaluating each vehicle’s brakes and headlights.

The Hyundai Tucson achieved the highest possible score of Superior in the area of front crash prevention while it merely scored Acceptable ratings when it came to headlights.

The Fiat 500x received Advanced scores in front crash prevention and Poor ratings on its headlights – the Tucson once again pulls ahead.

LATCH testing, focusing on the ease of installation for a child’s car seat, shows the Hyundai Tucson coming out on top once again. They received an Acceptable rating over the Fiat 500x’s Poor rating, securing better ratings in every area over the 500x.

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2017 Top Safety Picks

Having accumulated a wealth of scientific data on each vehicle’s safety, the IIHS chooses specific vehicles to receive the annual Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+.

The Top Safety Pick requires Good ratings in each area of crashworthiness testing while the Top Safety Pick+ requires the same ratings but an additional headlight rating of either Acceptable or Good.

The Hyundai Tucson received the Top Safety Pick+ in 2017 while the Fiat 500x received the normal Top Safety Pick.

While both vehicles are considered safe by the IIHS’ standards, the Hyundai Tucson takes the edge as the safer vehicle.

The Hyundai Tucson’s safety ratings ended up dominating the Fiat 500x’s, namely due to Good ratings around the board and higher standards of headlight and brake quality. While both are safe, the Hyundai Tucson is among the safest released in 2017.

No matter which vehicle you have or decide to purchase, make sure you take advantage of any discounts that apply to you such as:

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