2023 Kia Sportage crossover SUV qualifies for Top Safety Pick status
The redesigned 2023 Kia Sportage SUV has won the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick award, the insurance industry-funded safety agency announced Thursday. However, the coveted security award only applies to the top Prestige grades of the compact crossover.
To earn a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must earn a “Good” rating in all six IIHS crash tests, and its available automatic emergency braking system must earn at least an “Advanced” rating to avoid or mitigate collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians.
The last criterion, and the most difficult for car manufacturers to meet, was the headlight test. Since most fatal crashes happen at night, the IIHS expects cars to get at least an “Acceptable” rating to qualify for a TSP, and these headlights must be standard on all trims to earning a Top Safety Pick+ award, widely regarded as the most rigorous safety award independently tested.
The 2023 Kia Sportage compact crossover failed the headlight test, with only the SX Prestige and X-Pro Prestige earning “acceptable” headlight scores. The other ratings were given a “poor” rating for visibility. Prestige models cost upwards of $35,000, while the base 2023 Sportage LX starts at around $27,000.
The Sportage earned top marks in all six crash tests, and its standard and available automatic emergency braking systems earned the highest “premium” marks. Automakers sometimes install better headlights mid-production cycle to comply with stringent IIHS requirements.
Conversely, as more automakers meet the safety standards set by the IIHS, the independent nonprofit organization is raising the safety bar. It launched headlight testing in 2016 and incorporated the criteria into the 2018 model year awards. Nearly 90 models qualified. In 2022, more than half of the 225 models tested achieved at least a TSP designation, indicating automakers continue to meet the standards set by the IIHS.
The IIHS is raising the bar again with a new side-impact crash test intended to reflect the changing makeup of today’s fleet. Last updated 20 years ago, the side impact test that replicates a T-crash now uses a heavier crash vehicle with a higher ride height to approximate the proliferation of SUVs and trucks. From 2023, a “Good” or “Acceptable” rating in the new side impact test will be required to obtain a TSP, while a “Good” rating will be required for a TSP+.
The 2023 Kia Sportage has not undergone the new test and results have been mixed for other cars so far.