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

The IIHS gave the Kia Sportage a higher safety rating than Audi's Q3 in recent studies. The rate of auto insurance is around 18% more for some SUV models.

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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: Oct 21, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The Kia Sportage is one of two small SUVs ranked safest in the class
  • The Audi Q3 does not earn any safety awards
  • Kia formerly designed vehicles for the Fiat brand

Most drivers wouldn’t consider comparing the Kia Sportage to the Audi Q3. Kia is relatively new compared to Audi, and it’s not always been part of the vehicle manufacturing world.

Audi was founded in 1910 while Kia was not founded until 1944 and did not start manufacturing vehicles for decades after that.

It’s easy to assume Kia and Audi have little in common since Kia is an affordable vehicle brand that didn’t begin manufacturing vehicles in the United States until 1994 whereas Audi is a luxury vehicle manufacturer that’s been around for ages.

When shopping for a small SUV, you might not think the Audi has much in common with the Kia. The Kia is cheaper. The Audi is luxury.

However, it might be worthwhile to mention that before Kia began manufacturing a line of affordable automobiles just a few decades ago, it spent almost half a century manufacturing vehicles under other more affluent names such as Fiat and Peugeot.

Perhaps it makes more sense to compare the Kia to the Audi now, and it might also make sense to know that the Kia Sportage is one of two small SUVs on the market that take the top spot for being the safest in its class. The Audi doesn’t even come close.

If you’re weighing luxury over safety, perhaps knowing not only is the Kia safer and far more affordable to buy, it’s also more affordable to drive thanks to insurance discounts offered because of its great safety rating.

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What are vehicle safety ratings?


If you are comparing the Kia to the Audi, it’s probably because of safety. If it was cost, there wouldn’t be a question.

Safety is important to all drivers, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety works to provide the most accurate safety information for consumers and insurance companies.

Using a complex series of crash tests, the IIHS provides letter grades in a total of 7 subcategories found in three main crash categories for all small SUVs:

  • Sides, roofs, head restraints and seats, small overlap front, and moderation overlap front are all rated in crashworthiness
  • Headlights and front crash prevention were all rated in crash avoidance and mitigation
  • The latch is rated in the child seat anchors category
  • Good is “G”
  • Acceptable is “A”
  • Marginal is “M”
  • Poor is “P”

The eighth subcategory is the front crash prevention, and it’s not included in the letter graded categories because it’s rated differently. All front crash prevention tests are graded with three different levels.

Superior is the best level, and you want to drive a vehicle with this type of rating. Advanced is the next best rating, and basic is not what you want when you’re driving a small SUV.

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Determining Top Safety Pick Winners


Once all ratings and grades are issued to small SUVs in this class, awards are handed out by the IIHS to only the best of the best.

The Top Safety Pick award is an honor given only to vehicles that receive perfect ratings in all categories associated with crashworthiness as well as an advanced or better rating in the front crash prevention.

A few years ago the IIHS decided to include headlights in the safety categories. It’s still new, but it’s one that’s taking the world by storm due to the realization many headlights are not up to par for drivers and their safety.

Due to this information, the IIHS decided to award a Top Safety Pick Plus award to any vehicle that meets all criteria to become a Top Safety Pick in addition to a grade of “A” or better in the headlight category.

Unfortunately, not only of the 23 small SUVs on the market received a perfect “G” rating in the headlights category.

Only 11 earned an “A” for their headlights, 2 earned “M” ratings, 6 earned a poor rating, and 4 were not rated at all for headlights. It proves the IIHS’ findings on subpar headlights are on-target.


Kia vs. Audi

While you might assume the Kia has nothing on the Audi in terms of being a luxury SUV with sporty features, sleek designs, and upscale features, it’s the Audi that has nothing on the Kia in terms of safety.

The same can be said in terms of insurance savings and more cost-effective driving as well.

Kia Sportage

If you want a safe small SUV, this is the one you want to drive home. It’s got perfect ratings in all but two categories. The Sportage received “A” ratings in both headlights and the child latch in the back seat.

Keep in mind the latch is not unsafe, it’s merely rated on how easy it is to operate so you have a better chance of properly securing your children in the vehicle.

Audi Q3

The Audi is located much further down the list with a poor headlight rating and no score at all for front crash prevention. Otherwise, it scored precisely the same as the Kia in all categories. This makes it a vehicle that’s not unsafe, but it’s not as impressive as the Kia.

Without a front crash prevention rating, it’s impossible to provide this vehicle with a safety award. The poor headlight rating would have prevented the vehicle from being issued a Top Safety Pick Plus if the front crash prevention rating was available and impressive.

Kia or Audi?

This is a question only you can answer for yourself, but it’s not as difficult with two vastly different vehicles. One offers you a chance to save money on your car insurance as well as drive a car with impressive safety features.

The other comes with a luxury logo on the grill, and sometimes that’s all you want. There’s nothing wrong with that when you make your decisions based on fact.

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