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

The Kia Sportage and Fiat 500X both got high safety marks from the IIHS in 2017, but Kia won overall. The average cost of auto insurance for SUVs is 18% above other cars.

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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 22, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Kia has been in business since 1944 and specializes in designing affordable sedans, pickups, and now SUVs
  • In 1998, Kia developed its first compact SUV that’s still in production today called the Sportage
  • The 2017 Kia Sportage has jumped in price and size but is extremely more popular than it was when it debuted
  • Earlier model years didn’t have high safety ratings but the latest Kia Sportage is a 2017 Top Safety Pick
  • Between the automakers Kia and Fiat, Kia manufactures the safer compact SUV in the year 2017

Kia has been an automaker for over 7 decades. Within that span of time, the motor company has fought hard to become a top-seller, competing with other automakers like Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Fiat.

In the fight for market share, Kia has made the list of Top 10 Manufacturers in the Auto Industry, holding just under a 5 percent share.

The car manufacturer didn’t always have a reputation for making reliable products. In fact, when the Kia Sportage was first launched in 1998, it took the designers and engineers some time to develop a safe vehicle frame that would truly help to improve occupant survival chances.

The first 12 years that the Sportage was sold it didn’t even earn what the IIHS calls ‘Good’ crash test scores.

Comparing safety ratings as a consumer is crucial. It’s difficult to compare safety records between brands but comparing one small SUV to another is easy. As long as you know what type of car you’d like to buy, you can easily see how these cars performed when they were tested by the experts.

If you’re toggling between a Kia and a Fiat, you’ll need to do an adequate comparison. Use our FREE quote tool to compare auto insurance rates today!

Here’s what you should know when comparing the Kia Sportage to the Fiat 500X:

Understanding IIHS Safety Ratings

Unless you’re a scientist or you’ve studied engineering as it relates to automotive safety, you probably aren’t familiar with how vehicles are crash tested. Most consumers know that crash tests exist but they don’t know much beyond that.

Knowing what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does can truly help you make your buying decision.

A crash test involves more than just crashing a car and seeing how much of it is left afterward. Different key areas of the vehicle’s structure need to be dissected and inspected to see how protected occupants really are.

In 1995, which safety ratings were developed, only one front crash test was performed. Now, several tests are performed. Each of the areas that are tested for safety today includes:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side strength
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats
  • Front crash prevention
  • Headlight visibility and glare
  • Child seat tether accessibility and latch ease of use

What you should keep in mind is that you have access to how every car has performed in crash tests each year. Now, this information can be easily accessed online.

As you’re typing in a model or sifting through the vehicles in each class, you’ll see that they have been assigned the following safety ratings:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor
  • Frontal Crash Prevention and Crash Mitigation Systems – Superior, Advanced, or Basic


Safety Ratings for the 2017 Kia Sportage

  • Small overlap front crash – Good
  • Moderate overlap front crash  Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head and Seat Restraints – Good
  • Front Crash Mitigation and Prevention – Superior 6 out of 6 points(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Visibility and Glare – Poor
  • Child Seat Tether and Anchor Ease of Use – Acceptable

In 1998, when the Kia Sportage first made the lot, the vehicle tested earned just a ‘Marginal’ moderate overlap front rating. Since no other tests were performed at that time, it is hard to say whether or not the vehicle protected occupants.

Over time, ratings got worse before they got any better.

Fortunately for Kia, in 2017 things changed and scores improved dramatically. Out of all of the 6 crash tests performed, the 2017 Sportage earned ‘Good’ ratings in all of the areas from the front crash test to roof strength.

EX trim levels equipped with the technology package also earned a 6 out of 6 scores for Front Crash Prevention IIHS tests.

The only thing that prevented the 2017 model year from being a plus safety pick is that the headlights earned a ‘Poor’ score. Fortunately, the problem has already been fixed in 2018 that was produced after June of 2017.

Now, the headlights have been scored as ‘Acceptable’.

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Fiat 500X

  • Small overlap front crash – Good
  • Moderate overlap front crash – Good
  • Roof strength Good
  • Side Good
  • Head and Seat Restraints Good
  • Front Crash Mitigation and Prevention Advanced 4 out of 6 points(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Visibility and Glare Poor
  • Child Seat Tether and Anchor Ease of Use Marginal

Fiat and Kia have been competitors for some time, but not in the small SUV segment of the market. Fiat just recently started to manufacture a compact version of the sports utility vehicle in 2016.

Amazingly enough, the automaker didn’t have nearly as many problems as other brands have had in manufacturing safe models.

The 2017 Fiat 500X also earned all ‘Good’ ratings in crash tests but was not tested on the passenger side. The Front Crash Prevention rating on trim levels with the Advanced Safety Package earned a 4 out of 6 points for an ‘Advanced’ grade.

None of these ratings changed from 2016 when the 500X was debuted. Unfortunately, both models earned the lowest ‘Poor’ headlight ratings.

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Top Safety Pick

Both the 2017 Kia Sportage and the 2017 Fiat 500X are ranked as 2017 Top Safety Picks. Out of the two vehicles made in this model year, the Kia was the safer option because of its excellent Front Crash Prevention score.

Does Kia make a safer small SUV than Fiat?

While 2017 was not a good year for headlight performance, the Sportage earned almost perfect grades otherwise. This is what makes small SUVs by Kia safe than those by Fiat.

The ratings can change each year so you never know what can happen in the future.

Anytime you buy a car, get online insurance quotes and see how IIHS safety ratings impact your premiums. Compare online auto insurance rates today with our FREE quote tool.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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