Is Kia’s safety rating for midsize SUVs better than Mazda’s

Kia and Mazda's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings from the IIHS, but Mazda scored slightly higher. Safety upgrades can lower your car insurance rates by up to 8%.

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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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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9 are comparable in safety ratings
  • Choosing a safer car can help you save money while shopping for insurance
  • Safety ratings for different trims on cars can be different, and that can help you save more money

The IIHS created tests that would help simulate crashes that could happen in real-life. These range from using rollover, collision and even pedestrian incidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) creates these tests and uses vehicles that come out each year to determine which vehicles are the safest in each of the categories.

The IIHS determines whether midsize SUVs are safe or not based on the following:

  • crashworthiness
  • front crash prevention
  • child seat anchors

Many people who drive midsize SUVs think that just because they are larger than standard cars, the vehicles are safer. They often think they are safer just because of these facts, but that isn’t always the case.

In fact, some midsize SUVs are much more dangerous than standard four-door cars.

Compare car insurance quotes to find the best rate for the coverage you need. Enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool below to get started.

How Kia and Mazda Midsize SUVs Performed

Both the Kia and the Mazda midsize SUV models did well on the tests. The Sorento and the CX-9 had scores that were in the good and superior ranges. They also had some scores that were in the acceptable range, but they managed to score among the top midsize SUVs.

The good scores are the highest that a vehicle can get, followed by acceptable, marginal and poor.

The IIHS set up standards by which midsize SUVs need to perform in each of these categories to be considered good, acceptable, marginal or poor.

While some vehicles do not have scores for one or more of the tests, the Sorento and the CX-9 both scored in every category.


The tests used to determine a vehicle’s crashworthiness are:

  • Front small overlap
  • Front moderate overlap
  • Side strength
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints and seats

For a vehicle to score a good on any of these categories, it must pass the safety tests. Passing means that the crash test figure must not have been considered “perished” during the test. The vehicles also have to sustain very little damage during each of the tests.

The Kia Sorento and the Mazda CX-9 both got good ratings on each of the crashworthiness tests. They both are crashworthy vehicles and could be involved in a collision while sustaining only mild to moderate damage.

The vehicles both received these scores with the standard equipment. They are identical in crashworthiness.

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

To determine things like crash avoidance abilities and mitigation, IIHS looks at things like the headlights and the auto brake features that are now available on the cars. They also look at the traditional brakes and optional safety vehicles.

The Kia Sorento and the Mazda CX-9 both got ratings of superior on the front crash prevention tests. This score was thanks to the fact that both vehicles had auto brakes that came with the optional equipment.

Even though the Kia Sorento and the Mazda CX-9 both had acceptable scores for the headlights, there were some differences in the tests. The Kia Sorento received the score with optional equipment that could be added on all models of the car.

The Mazda CX-9 received the score with only some of the trims the vehicle is available in.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

It is important that users are able to use the LATCH system easily. People who cannot use the system easily are less likely to use it correctly. There are also issues that come from the LATCH system being mistaken for some other hardware in the seats of the vehicle.

The Kia Sorrento and the Mazda CX-9 received acceptable scores on their LATCH test ease of use. 

Both of the vehicles got the scores on standard equipment, but there was hardware in both of them that could be confused with the LATCH system, causing the seat to become unsecured during a collision.

Each vehicle had two seats with full LATCH and other seats with only tether LATCH systems.

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Top Safety Picks

The Top Safety Pick + is the highest award that IIHS gives out. The vehicles must receive the good score on all five of the crashworthiness tests. They also have to have a rating of superior f0r front crash prevention.

A vehicle cannot have anything under acceptable for headlights or LATCH if they want to be considered for the Top Safety Pick + award.

The 2018 Sorento and 2017 CX-9 both earned the Top Safety Pick + award. The only difference the two vehicles had was in the front crash prevention category.

The Sorento was able to score an acceptable with optional equipment, but the CX-9 was only able to score an acceptable on some of its trims.

Since both of the vehicles are Top Safety Pick + recipients, they are both considered above average for safety, but the Sorento is just slightly safer.

Safe vehicles can help you if you are in a crash, and they can also help you save money when you’re paying for your insurance plan. Get quotes from insurance agents to see which vehicle would save you more money on insurance.

Choosing either the Kia Sorento or the Mazda CX-9 would a better decision than choosing most other midsize SUVs because of the high level of safety both of the vehicles have.

Compare car insurance rates between these vehicles to get an idea of the premiums you would have to pay. Enter your zip code below to get started.

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