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

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

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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...

  • Closely matched in features, price, and performance,the Kia Sorento and Nissan Murano stand out among midsize SUVs
  • At a slightly higher price, the Murano may not be as safe as the Sorento
  • IIHS crash tests show how these two vehicles can protect its occupants in collisions

When shopping for a family vehicle, many buyers are drawn to midsize SUVs. What’s not to love? Midsize SUVs like the Nissan Murano and the Kia Sorento are known for their sufficient seating and ample storage.

Besides that, the Sorento offers a robust value with its confident 100,000-mile warranty, optional towing package, spacious seating, and 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter I-4 engine. Many, like the Murano, offer indulgent perks, as well.

The Murano can supply on-screen connectivity and navigation, luxury interior design, and a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine.

Families expect safety and feel that the comfortable and accommodating size of the midsize SUV can offer that. While midsize SUVs typically have average safety ratings. these two top performers are worth consideration.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute rate vehicle safety using a series of tests:

  • Crashworthiness
  • Crash avoidance and mitigation
  • Child seat anchors

Based on the way the vehicle performs in the tests, it is assigned ratings using the words good, acceptable, marginal or poor, with “good” being the highest rating.

Compare car insurance rates for these vehicles to find out which could get you lower premiums. Enter your zip code above to get started.

2017 Midsize SUVs: Murano vs Sorento

A comparison test between the 2017 Nissan Murano and the 2017 Kia Sorento shows how the two perform in safety. Overall, both of these vehicles can be proud of how they handled the tests, but one of them does turn out ahead.


To determine the crashworthiness of the vehicles, IIHS/HLDI puts them through four crash scenarios:

  • two front end collisions (one with a small overlap and one with a moderate overlap)
  • a side-impact test
  • a roof strength test
  • a head, restraints, and seats test

The Sorento and the Murano performed nearly identically in the small overlap tests.

The Murano fell behind slightly when comparing injuries in the moderate overlap test, though. Here, the vehicle is placed in a simulation of being in a frontal offset crash at 40 MPH.

Observing the crash test dummies, the Sorento’s injury measurements showed that there was a low risk of injury in that type of crash.

The Murano’s dummy’s head hit the steering wheel even though the airbag was deployed, indicating that a head injury would be probably in a crash at that speed. Both received an overall “good” rating for the front overlap tests.

In the side crash test, the Sorento, again, came out ahead, but only slightly.

Both vehicles come equipped with standard front and second-row head curtain airbags and standard front seat-mounted torso airbags, making it unlikely for injury to occur in a crash similar to the side impact given in the test.

Due to the structure and safety of the cage, the Murano did show that its driver would have been likely suffered a broken rib but no other injuries. In the side crash test, both the Sorento and the Murano earned a rating of “good.”

The final crashworthiness criterion is roof strength. Both the Sorento and the Murano earned a “good” rating by pulling a score of at least four in the strength to weight ratio calculation.

Following the trend, however, the Sorento only slightly outperformed the Murano with scores of 4.7 and 4.5, respectively.

Prevention and Technology

The Sorento leads the Murano in its crash protection, but how do these midsize SUV’s measure up regarding mitigating and avoiding a crash to begin with?

Both vehicles provide forward collision warning systems which meet the National Highway Transportation System’s criteria. This awards them each a point in the overall evaluation.

They also both can be purchased with an optional technology package to include the emergency brake assist.

To determine the effectiveness of the systems, IIHS tested both vehicles for the performance of the auto brakes in impending low- and moderate-speed forward collisions.

The low-speed test requires the vehicle approach a target at 12 MPH. The test awards 1 point for systems that will slow the vehicle by at least five MPH and two points if the auto brake slows it by 10 MPH or more.

The moderate-speed test follows the same process, but at speeds of 25 MPH. The moderate-speed test also provides the option of three points of the vehicle is slowed by at least 22 MPH.

In the tests, the Murano earned two points in each category. It nearly avoided the low-speed collision (but didn’t), and it was able to reduce the impact speed by 11 MPH.

The Sorento proved to be slightly ahead of its competitor once again. The auto brake feature was able to avoid collisions in both the low- and moderate-speed collision tests. That earned the Sorento and an extra point.

Both vehicles, however, earned a ranking of “superior” with only one point difference in overall evaluation. It is important to note, however, that the ranking is for the vehicles that include the optional technology package.

Anchors for Child Seats

Car seats will fit easily into both the Murano and the Sorento, but each of them received a rating of “acceptable” for the hardware.

While both vehicles include the LATCH child seat anchors, the Murano’s are hard to reach, and the Sorento’s middle backseat hardware may be confused with other hardware in the vehicle. The systems are adequate but could use some improvements.

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Top Safety Picks

With a number of safety features, both the Nissan Murano and the Kia Sorento have earned IIHS safety awards. For its great ratings in many of the categories, the Murano takes home the Top Safety Pick award.

The Sorento, however, outperformed in one more area: headlights. Its headlight evaluation earned a rating of “acceptable” compared to the Murano’s “marginal.”

The Sorento wins the IIHS award of Top Safety Pick Plus.

In all overall rankings and ratings, the two came out about equal. With a slightly better auto brake and crash protection, the Kia Sorento offers slightly better safety.

Taking safety into consideration when choosing a family vehicle is important not only for protecting a family but also for keeping insurance rates down.

Other factors, like performance and reliability, may factor into insurance premiums as well. To ensure a smart purchase, compare free quotes from insurance companies before making a final decision. Enter your zip code below to get started.

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