Is Hyundai’s safety rating for midsize SUVs better than Kia’s?

Hyundai and Kia's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings, but Hyundai scored slightly higher. Save up to 8% on car insurance rates by installing new safety features.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • For the midsize SUV vehicle class in 2017, the IIHS analyzed test results for two Hyundai models and one Kia model
  • All three of the Hyundai and Kia SUV models reviewed by the IIHS in 2017 received special recognition for excellence in safety
  • Safety test results are a great way to learn more about a vehicle’s overall protective capabilities, and they may also be used by auto providers to estimate your SUV insurance rates

Midsize SUVs have a typically dominant presence on the road, and you may love the fact that you will sit at eye level or higher with most other drivers on the road after you buy your next SUV.

The height and size of a midsize SUV can easily create a feeling of safety and confidence behind the wheel, but you should be aware that not all SUVs have exceptionally high safety test scores.

When you are trying to decide between a Hyundai or KIA SUV in this class, turn to the test results that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has prepared.

As popular as the Hyundai and Kia SUV models are, you may expect the safety test results for these midsize SUVs to be mostly similar in all safety tests.

With a closer look at the IIHS test results, however, you will discover that only two of these three SUV models have received special recognition from the IIHS in the area of overall safety.

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How the Two Hyundai Midsize SUVs Rate against the Kia SUV Models

While there are many factors that you should review before settling on the right vehicle to buy, safety should be at the top of your list.

The IIHS has released safety tests results for midsize SUVs in eight substantial test areas, and these eight areas are grouped together into three larger categories.

As you examine each of the SUV test results in greater detail, you will see that most of these results are doled out with ratings as follows:

  • Good
  • Average
  • Marginal
  • Poor

The one exception to this IIHS rating system is with the Front Crash Prevention test. This test uniquely uses the following rating system:

  • Superior
  • Advanced
  • Basic


The IIHS safety category for Crashworthiness features five individual test areas. The tests combine to give a buyer more detailed information about how well the SUV in question could protect its occupants if the vehicle is involved in a collision.

Front Small Overlap, Side, Front Moderate Overlap, Roof Strength, and Head Restraints and seats are the five tested safety areas in this category. The Kia Sorento SUV, as well as the Santa Fe Sport, received a “good” scores in each of the five areas tested.

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Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

You may also be concerned with an SUV’s overall ability to either avoid a collision or reduce the severity of the damage from a collision, and this is an area that is examined closely by the IIHS under the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation safety group.

The two tests in this safety group are the Headlights test and the Front Crash Prevention test.

Three models from Hyundai and Kia in 2017 all received a score of “superior” for the Front Crash Prevention test.

For the Headlights test, the Santa Fe had a “good” score, and the Sorento had an “average” score. On the other hand, the Santa Fe Sport had a “poor” score for the Headlights test.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

Your ability to properly secure a child’s car seat to the seat anchors in an SUV can affect the child’s well-being. The LATCH test from the IIHS explores the ease with which car seats can properly be installed in a vehicle.

Each of the three Kia and Hyundai SUV models analyzed by the IIHS had an “average” LATCH score.

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2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+

The two IIHS commendations for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ make it easier for you to quickly determine which 2017 midsize SUVs are safer to drive overall.

The Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento both received the highest commendation for safety from the IIHS, which is the top Safety Pick+ honor.

Vehicles that qualified for this honor had a “good” score in all of the Crashworthiness tests as well as higher ratings in the Headlights and Front Crash Prevention tests.

The Top Safety Pick commendation has similar requirements as the Front Safety Pick+ test has, and the main difference is that the lesser award does not have a Headlights rating requirement.

One of the Top Safety Pick awards from the IIHS went to the 2017 Hyundai Sante Fe Sport.

Is Hyundai safer than Kia in 2017 for midsize SUVs?

Buying a safe vehicle is certainly a top priority, and as an SUV shopper, you will see that both the Santa Fe and Sorento received the highest-level safety award available from the IIHS. However, the Santa Fe had a better score on the Headlights test.

The primary area where the Santa Fe Sport lagged behind these other two SUV models is in the Headlights test.

With their incredible style and features, it is easy to narrow down your buying options to Hyundai and Kia SUV models. Analyzing IIHS safety test results can provide you with eye-opening information that could possibly help you to further narrow down your options.

However, be aware that insurance costs can vary dramatically from one model to the next, and you need to request a few auto insurance quotes online to determine which vehicle may be most affordable to insure.

When you take this important step, you may be able to keep your overall ownership costs as low as possible. Enter your zip code into our quote tool below to begin.

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