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

When comparing small SUVs and safety, the Hyundai Tucson edges out the Kia Sportage. The Sportage is ranked second only because of one small safety factor.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 9, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Both the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage were Top Safety Pick+ winners
  • Vehicles that receive awards like the Tucson and the Sportage can help drivers save money on their insurance costs
  • The IIHS works to provide ratings that are accurate based on the realistic tests they have created for vehicle safety

To determine the safety ratings on each vehicle they test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) does their best to make sure their tests are as close to what would happen in a real-life situation.

Drivers and car companies use IIHS tests to determine how safe vehicles are.

The IIHS is an industry leader when it comes to safety ratings and many people regard them as the best source for safety information on vehicles.

Compare car insurance rates for the different vehicles you’re considering. Safer vehicles will usually help you save money on insurance premiums. Enter your zip code above to begin comparing and seeing how much you could save.

Ratings the IIHS Uses

By giving vehicle ratings, the IIHS is helping to create a concrete system for judging the vehicles and how safe they are. The ratings can be as follows:

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

In addition to the P through G rating scale, the IIHS uses a scale for the crash avoidance measures that range from basic equipment to advanced equipment and then superior equipment for vehicles that perform exceptionally well on the crash avoidance test.

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The crash tests the IIHS uses are among the most sophisticated tests in the vehicle world. The IIHS tested the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage to determine if they would be safe in different types of crashes:

  • small overlap front
  • moderate overlap front
  • the sides
  • the roof
  • head restraints and seats

The Tucson and the Sportage both received identical scores on each of the tests. The Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson both received G ratings in each of the tests.

The ratings they received were with the standard equipment that both of the vehicles came with and did not involve different trim levels or optional equipment buyers could choose to have put on the vehicle.



The Sportage and the Tucson both needed optional equipment to be able to be rated for their crash avoidance. They used an auto-brake that could be added after the vehicle was chosen from a list of standard equipment.

Even though they both had to use the standard equipment, their scores remained the same.

The Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage had auto-brake equipment added to them and received a rating of superior. They both stopped at 12 miles per hour and 25 miles per hour.

The headlights received a score of A for acceptable because of how they worked, but the Kia Sportage was only able to receive that score depending on the certain trims drivers could choose from.


For this test, both of the vehicles received the same A rating as each other making them identical for the LATCH system ease of use.

The Hyundai Tucson received the acceptable rating because the vehicle’s LATCH system required too much force for the user to have while they were attaching the child safety seat.

The Kia Sportage only received an A because the place where the safety seat attached to the LATCH system was too deep in the seat making it difficult for the user to get the seat into the vehicle comfortably.

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The Safest Small SUV

The Hyundai Tucson was the highest-rated and safest car according to the IIHS which is something that can be difficult in the small SUV class because of their compact design. It did not receive any scores that were under the A rating.

It also took home the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for the model year because of the exceptional scores it had on each of the tests.

The Kia Sportage was the second highest rated small SUV based on the IIHS safety ratings and was only behind because of one small safety factor. It also received the Top Safety Pick+ award. While the Kia Sportage received the same exact score as the Hyundai Tucson.

Since the Hyundai Tucson was the highest rated vehicle in the small SUV class, it is important to look at the reasons why it was the safest.

While both vehicles required optional equipment to receive the superior rating for crash avoidance, the Tucson also only required optional equipment to receive an A for the headlights.

The Sportage, though, did not have optional equipment for the headlight rating and, instead, required certain trim levels that drivers could choose from.

Choosing a Car Based on Safety

Even though the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage had different rankings, they were almost identical in safety ratings. Because of this, they are the safest small SUVs that are available on the market.

The vehicles would both be less expensive to insure than any other small SUV.

Safety isn’t the only reason a person should choose a car, though. Shopping around for a car and insurance are important to learn what the car will cost upfront and what it will cost over its lifetime. Enter your zip code below to shop today.

Drivers should also consider the right type of car that will work for their specific needs, their aesthetic wants, and the amount of money they have available to spend on the vehicle.

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