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

Kia and Volkswagen's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings from the IIHS, but Kia scored higher. Safety features may reduce your car insurance rates by up to 8%.

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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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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Discounts on insurance for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ vehicles are comparable
  • The IIHS has determined the Volkswagen SUV and the Kia Sorento SUV are both Top Safety Pick vehicles, but the Kia received slightly better score
  • A vehicle that has passed rigorous safety tests and scored well will be a safer option for drivers

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has come up with tests that are similar to what would happen in real-life situations. By doing this, they are providing accurate results of how a vehicle would perform during an accident.

Even though midsize SUVs are generally safer than mini cars or compact models, not all of them are safe.

Some people get relaxed in the way they think of vehicles that are in the midsize SUV class because they think they’re all safe, but the ratings can vary between makes and even models within the same make.

Compare car insurance quotes to find the best rate for the coverage you need no matter which vehicle you decide to go with.

Rating Criteria for the Sorento and Atlas

The Kia Sorento and the Volkswagen Atlas both won awards from IIHS. They are both safer than many other SUVs, but they do have major differences in terms of safety.

The ratings show the differences and, while most of the crash results are identical, there are other areas where the vehicles are vastly different.

When the ratings show the differences in vehicles, it is with the grades they can receive. A vehicle that does extremely well will receive a rating of good. Good ratings are followed by:

  • acceptable
  • marginal
  • poor

The mitigation and avoidance of vehicles are both hard to rate with letter grades, so IIHS developed a point system. Vehicles that have the most points are determined to be superior, followed by advanced and basic.

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The Atlas and Sorento Avoided Crashes

Crash avoidance has consistently improved in the past decade because of new technology. The IIHS requires cars to have a warning system to pass the test which both the Atlas and the Sorento had.

The Sorento comes standard with auto brake systems, and the systems managed to avoid crashes going 12 MPH and 25 MPH. The Atlas only has the auto brake on certain trim choices, but it was able to avoid a crash at 12 MPH.

It was unable to avoid a crash at 25 MPH, and instead only reduced the speed to nine MPH. It lost a point for failing to avoid a crash.

The headlights on the Sorento passed with an acceptable grade while the headlights on the Atlas only received a marginal rating. The Atlas had headlights that did not reach out to the sides far enough to meet the IIHS standards.

How Each Vehicle Performed in a Crash

The IIHS uses these crashworthiness tests to learn about how a vehicle will perform in an accident:

  • Overlap on sides and front
  • Strength of the sides
  • Ability of roof to stay stable
  • Head restraints and seats

The Kia Sorento and the Volkswagen Atlas received a grade of good on all their crashworthiness tests. The score means the vehicles did not sustain major damage during these tests.

Efficacy of LATCH System

The LATCH system helps to keep child safety seats in place during a collision. The LATCH systems are not evaluated as far as efficacy, but they are tested for ease of use. The easier they are to use, the more likely users will be to use them correctly.

The LATCH system in the Sorento received an acceptable score because the two seats with the full LATCH system had hardware that could be mistaken for the LATCH hardware.

The Atlas only received a Marginal rating because the seats were too deep for users to reach in and latch, and the system required users to put too much force to get the system latched.

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Which vehicle received an IIHS award?

The Sorento received the Top Safety Pick+ award. The Atlas had two marginal grades with the headlights and the LATCH system, so it was only able to take home a Top Safety Pick award.

While both of the midsize SUVs are safe, it is clear the Sorento is safer than the Atlas because it had no marginal grades on any of the tests it went through.

The Atlas was able to win the award in its first year of production. With some minor changes that can easily be made to the manufacture of the vehicle, it will be able to get the Top Safety Pick+ award in the coming years.

The Sorento will continue to be a Top Safety Pick+ if they continue making the vehicles in the same way they have for the past two years.

With new technology constantly being installed in vehicles and the need for safety growing, more vehicles than ever are safe. This doesn’t mean all midsize SUVs are, so it is important to look at the safety ratings before purchasing a vehicle.

Being safe could save your life and will save you money when you are shopping around for insurance. See how much these safety features could save you by entering your zip code into our free rate tool below.

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