Is Honda’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Kia’s?

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Things to remember...

  • Both the Honda CR-V and the Kia Sportage received higher than average ratings for their safety features
  • The IIHS has proprietary tests they use that are made to mimic what an accident would actually be like in real life
  • Having a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ vehicle can help drivers save money on insurance costs

In addition to the traditional crash tests most people think of when they think of safe cars, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) uses other tests that help people realize how safe a car is before it gets into a collision.

The IIHS looks at different areas of a car including its ability to stop before a crash, the headlight efficacy and the vehicle’s LATCH system for the safety of its littlest passengers.

Because the IIHS is the industry leader on the safety tests for vehicles, they work hard to make their tests as realistic as possible.

The IIHS uses ratings that go from basic to superior and poor to good. The basic/superior ratings are used for testing the vehicle’s ability to avoid a crash and they also have an advanced rating that is included with it.

The IIHS also uses a system of poor, marginal, acceptable and good for other crash tests that are performed on the vehicles.

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How Honda and Kia Compare

In most areas, the Honda CR-V and the Kia Sportage were both able to receive the same scores.

There was one area where the vehicles were not identical in their scores and that actually determined which vehicle received a Top Safety Pick and which one received a Top Safety Pick+ award.

Although there was one area that the vehicles did not perform exactly the same, they are both close to equal in their safety features.

–The Safety of Vehicles in Collisions

Many people consider the crash test ratings to be the most important. While they are not the only thing the IIHS looks at when determining the safety of a vehicle, they are important to the overall score of the vehicle.

The IIHS likes to make sure a vehicle is able to fare well during a crash so there are no problems with its ability to protect passengers if a crash were to happen.

The following scores are possible:

  • G for good
  • A for acceptable
  • M for marginal
  • P for poor

The CR-V received a performance rating of G for all the categories except the small overlap front passenger side test. The IIHS was unable to collect data on this crash and the CR-V was not rated.

The Kia Sportage received all the same scores except it was able to receive a rating for the small overlap front passenger side crash. It received a G rating on that test.

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–How Vehicles Avoid Crashes

For crash avoidance, the IIHS looks at the headlights, the warning system and the auto brake features that help a vehicle stop if the driver is unable to put the brakes on.

The headlights on the CR-V received a rating of A because they did not perform perfectly on right gradual turns.

The Sportage’s headlights only received a rating of P because they were not as effective at navigating turns even though they worked almost perfectly while the vehicle was on straightaways.

The warning system that alerts a driver they are going to get into a collision received a perfect score on the CR-V and the Sportage because it worked according to NHSTA standards.

The following ratings are given in this category:

  • S for superior
  • A for advanced
  • B for basic

The auto brakes on both vehicles also worked perfectly, stopping them before they hit something going both 25 miles per hour and 12 miles per hour. Since the vehicles received these scores, they were able to be ranked S on the crash avoidance tests.

–LATCH System Safety Rating

Since the LATCH system is an important part of vehicle safety, it is regulated by sources other than the IIHS.

Because of this regulation, all LATCH systems are created to be as safe as possible. Since the IIHS needs to make sure the systems are working, they have chosen to only test the ease of use of such systems by drivers.

The LATCH system in both the Sportage and the CR-V were rated as acceptable. They both had anchors that were too close to other hardware. Drivers could mistake the other hardware for the anchors, making it less safe for the child safety seat.

Which vehicle won?


The biggest difference in each of the vehicles was the headlights. While the CR-V’s headlights were not perfect, they did score an A on the tests.

The Sportage did not score as well and had a poor rating for the headlights. Because of the poor ratings, it wasn’t able to be rated as a Top Safety Pick+. Instead, it was rated as a Top Safety Pick.

While the Honda CR-V is technically the safer vehicle, there are virtually no differences in the ratings aside from the headlights.

Along with a safer vehicle being able to protect drivers if they are in an accident, the safer car can also lend a peace of mind to the drivers. They will have a sense of security knowing the vehicle was rated and awarded by the IIHS.

Drivers must keep in mind, though, safety ratings aren’t the only reason to choose a vehicle. Overall cost, the cost of insurance and the commitment it takes to keep the vehicle will also help drivers choose a car that’s right for them.

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