• Hyundai's latest Sonata earned IIHS's top award for crash safety
  • Top Safety Pick+ designation only given to best-performing cars
  • 2015 Sonata already at dealers, with starting price of $22,200

After a series of crash tests, the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata has received the highest possible crash safety rating, Top Safety Pick+, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit group funded by the insurance industry.

According to the IIHS, the 2015 Sonata earned its Top Safety Pick+ rating after stellar performance in four tests: a front crash test, a side test, a head restraints test and a moderate overlap test, which involves a 40-mile-per-hour collision with a barrier that's slightly offset from the middle of the car.

The Sonata also earned an Acceptable rating in the small overlap front test, which is designed to simulate a high-speed, driver's side impact with a pole or a tree. That test, which the IIHS only recently adopted, has caused problems for many new cars, including several Sonata rivals, which have earned Poor or Marginal ratings due to their weak performance.

Beyond its strong performance on the crash tests, the Sonata also includes several important features necessary to earn the Top Safety Pick+ rating. There's a forward collision alert system, which is one component of the rating, as well as an automatic braking function that will stop the car quickly if it senses an impending impact.

Only five rival midsize sedans can boast the Top Safety Pick+ designation: the Chevrolet Malibu, the Ford Fusion, the Honda Accord, the Mazda6 and the Subaru Legacy. Several rivals, including the Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat and Nissan Altima, earned a similar Top Safety Pick score, lacking only the forward collision braking system necessary to give them the all-important "+" designation.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is already available at dealers, with base prices starting around $22,200 with shipping. Trim levels include a base-level SE, a midlevel Sport, a fuel-saving Eco and an upscale Limited.

What it means to you: With its stellar crash test ratings in place, Hyundai's latest Sonata seems ready for family duty.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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