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

The Kia Sportage and the Subaru Forester both received the IIHS top safety award in recent tests. The rate of auto insurance is around 18% more for many 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: Nov 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The Kia Sportage and the Subaru Forester both received the prestigious IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award
  • Choosing a Top Safety Pick+ award winner can help you save money on your auto insurance costs
  • IIHS ratings are reliable because they work hard to ensure their ratings have certain standards associated with them

The Kia Sportage is a small SUV that Kia manufactures. The SUV is the smallest in its compact SUV lineup. It has been manufactured for over 20 years.

While the Kia Sportage has been around for nearly as long, it is an even smaller SUV. Its wheelbase is close to the ground.

The Forester has different trim options that range from standard equipment to luxury. Make sure to use our free quote tool above to make sure you are getting the best rate for an SUV!

Small SUV Safety Tests: Subaru’s vs. Kia

The IIHS likes to make sure they are using the best tests possible so they can ensure they are getting all the right ratings for their clients. Because the IIHS likes to show people what they can get from the ratings they have listed, they try to make them as accurate as possible.

As a trusted authority on highway safety, the IIHS knows their reputation depends on using the most accurate tests possible.

They have many crash courses and other testing tools they can use to accurately recreate all the different situations that could happen while people are driving in different areas.

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Using Ratings to Rank Vehicles

Vehicles will receive ratings based on how they perform on the tests. The Kia Sportage and the Subaru Forester were rated on crash tests, on their avoidance abilities and even the headlights. The ratings they received ranged from:

  • G – good.
  • A – acceptable.
  • M – marginal.
  • P – poor.

The IIHS uses these ratings on all of the vehicles they test so they are sure the vehicles are given the most accurate safety rating possible.

In addition to using their traditional rating system, they also use a scale that goes from basic to superior for the crash avoidance measures each vehicle has in place.

Subaru’s vs. Kia Collisions Testing

The IIHS makes sure they are performing the most realistic tests possible for the small overlap front crashes, moderate overlap front crashes, side crashes and rollovers.

In the crash tests, they also include tests to determine the efficacy of the headrests and restraints on the seats. By doing all of this, the IIHS is able to see how a vehicle can perform during an accident.

The Subaru Forester and the Kia Sportage both received ratings of G on every test except the passenger-side small overlap front test.

On that test, the Sportage received a rating of G, but the Forester received a rating of M. The ratings were different because the passenger side on the Forester received considerable damage.

Subaru’s vs. Kia Avoidance and Mitigation Tests

The IIHS looks at the auto brake feature and the collision warning system on the vehicles to determine if they will be able to avoid a crash.

Because the headlights also contribute to crash avoidance, the IIHS includes this in the same category. The IIHS performs crash tests for the auto brake and road tests for the headlights.

The Sportage and the Forester both had identical ratings for their crash avoidance equipment. They both had warning signals that were up to IIHS standards.

They were both able to stop in a low-speed accident as well as a moderate-speed accident using the auto brake feature.

The auto-brake is optional equipment that can be added to both of the vehicles. Both the Sportage and the Forester received an A on the headlights.

Subaru’s vs. Kia LATCH System Tests

Since the IIHS only tests the ease of use to determine the LATCH system efficacy in every vehicle, the rating is based on how easy the system is to use for the average person.

The LATCH systems should be the same in every car because they are required by the government to meet certain standards to help protect the child who is in the seat attached to the LATCH system.

A user should be able to easily find the actual LATCH system and fasten it with only a small amount of effort.

In the Kia Sportage and the Subaru Forester, the LATCH system received a rating of A. Both vehicles were set up similarly with the anchors and LATCH positions in the second row of seats.

They both received an A because the LATCH was too deep in the seat and would make it more difficult for the average person to reach into the seat if they were trying to attach a safety seat.


Subaru’s vs. Kia: The Safer Car

All of the scores that each vehicle received were tallied up to determine which car was the safest pick. Both of the vehicles received the Top Safety Pick+ because they had all good or acceptable scores on the major areas that were tested.

The only difference between the two vehicles was the Subaru Forester received a single M rating for the passenger side for the small overlap front test.

The Kia Sportage was a safer vehicle. It was not a score that was influential enough to push the Forester from a Top Safety Pick+ to a Top Safety Pick.

In fact, many of the vehicles that were tested in the small SUV class didn’t even receive a rating on the passenger side of the small overlap front test. The Sportage was the second safest vehicle in the small SUV class and the Subaru Forester was the third safest vehicle in the class.

Factors to Choose a Car


Choosing a safe car like the Subaru Forester will help protect drivers while they are using the car on a regular basis.

A safe car can also help them save money on insurance, but the safety factor is not the only factor a driver should consider when choosing a vehicle.

Drivers who are choosing small SUVs need to understand they are often not as safe as their large-size counterparts, but different SUVs in the class will have better safety ratings depending on how they are mad.

Looking at other factors like brand reputation, cost and aesthetics will help each driver make the right choice for their car. No matter which vehicle you choose, make sure to compare rates with our free quote tool below! 

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