The 2021 Genesis GV80 has been named a top pick by an independent car safety organization, meaning it scored the highest possible marks on the group’s safety tests.
It’s the same SUV that golfer Tiger Woods crashed in the Los Angeles area in February, crushing his legs and putting his career in jeopardy.
When the crash happened, the vehicle was so new that non-governmental, independent safety assessments had not yet been conducted on it.
Now that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has had time to test it, the vehicle has been named as one of its Top Safety Pick+ recipients, scoring high marks on an assessment of its crashworthiness and crash prevention capability.
“This is one of the Institute’s top-rated midsize luxury SUVs,” IIHS spokesman Russ Rader said in an email. “The GV80 aced all six IIHS crashworthiness tests.”
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In an interview, Brian Latouf, chief safety officer of Genesis Motor North America, declined to provide details on how the GV80 held up for Woods but acknowledged that “it was a significant crash.” Genesis had sponsored the PGA Tour event that occurred the weekend before the golf legend hosted the tournament.
When IIHS announced its initial round of Top Safety Pick+ award recipients on Feb. 24 – coincidentally the day after the Woods crash – it included multiple Genesis vehicles but not the GV80.
That’s because the GV80 is brand new for 2021 and hadn’t been rolled out in time for IIHS to include it in its first round of safety tests. But the group periodically updates its Top Safety Picks as new vehicles come out.
As it happens, in fact, IIHS conducted its final of six crash tests on the Genesis GV80 the day after the Woods crash.
So far this year, 50 of about 200 vehicles that have been fully tested by IIHS have received the top award.
To earn the Top Safety Pick+ designation, which is one step above Top Safety Pick, cars must meet a variety of criteria, including:
• Receiving “good” ratings in all six IIHS crash tests.
• Offering “superior” or “advanced” front crash prevention protecting against collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians.
• Providing “good” or “acceptable” headlights in all trim levels and packages.
The single car crash in Southern California caused significant injuries to Tiger Woods' right leg. He underwent what was described as a “long surgical procedure” at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. (Feb. 24)
“The protocols they have in place now to win this award are incredibly challenging,” Latouf said. “You don’t just by chance win the award. It requires intensive engineering planning at the early stages.”
While new vehicles are substantially safer than vehicles from decades earlier, they are not impervious to deadly accidents. More than 36,000 people were killed in car crashes on American roadways in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
On social media, some people speculated that the SUV’s safety features may have saved the golf legend’s life.
The Genesis GV80’s safety systems include:
• 10 standard airbags, including one that deploys in the center of the vehicle as well as a driver-side knee airbag.
“The vehicle is loaded up with airbags,” Latouf said.
• Advanced driver assistance systems, including forward-collision alert avoidance, stability control, evasive steering technology and an interior camera that alerts the driver if they’re falling asleep.
• New vehicle architecture, known in the industry as a “platform,” built with a passenger compartment reinforced with high strength steel to provide rigidity in case of a crash.
“Safety is foundational to the brand at Genesis, and it’s really important that we deliver on that promise,” Latouf said.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 is seen here in this photo provided by Genesis, Hyundai's luxury car brand. (Photo: DW Burnett )
The 2021 Genesis GV80, which carries a starting price of nearly $50,000, also has a 14.5-inch horizontal touchscreen on the center console and an 8-inch digital instrument panel.
Some safety critics have accused automakers of distracting drivers by integrating larger and larger screens into their vehicles.
In the early going, authorities suggested that Woods may have been driving at a high speed when he crashed. But the available evidence indicates that the famed golfer was not paying attention to the road and drifted off of it before crashing his car, three forensic car accident experts recently told USA TODAY Sports.
Latouf, the Genesis safety official, declined to comment on the crash details.
“We’re focused on wishing Tiger a full and speedy recovery and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time,” he said.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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