Hyundai's low prices aren't forcing the automaker to sacrifice safety. The Hyundai Sonata was only one of two first model year 2011 vehicles to achieve 5-star overall safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The only other car tested to achieve that rating was the BMW 5 Series. That's some very impressive company.
It's kind of amusing to take a moment to compare the models of the two vehicles that received 5-star ratings. The BMW 5-series starts at $44,550. The Hyundai Sonata starts at $19,195. Clearly, Hyundai has found a way to make very safe cars very cheaply.
Indeed, some of Hyudai's major competitors did particularly poorly. Both Nissan and Toyota were at the bottom of the heap. Nissan's Versa scored lowest of all, with just two stars. The Toyota Camry was next lowest with three stars. All of the other 29 models tested scored four stars.
The NHTSA only tested 34 first model year 2011 vehicles here, so it's hard to know how automakers' other models will fare. But for now, Hyundai's safety ratings make its low price an even more incredible value. Here's a snapshot of the overall scores: