One SUV of 8 Receives IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award in New Crash Tests

2019 Kia Sorento

It’s time for a new round of safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This time the IIHS put eight 2018-2019 model year SUVs to the test. Only one of them made the cut for its Top Safety Pick+ award and two of the eight ended up with poor rankings.

Passenger-Side Small Overlap Tests

The IIHS started conducting passenger-side small overlap tests last year. The tests are designed to see how the person in the front passenger seat would fare if in a serious crash.

SUVs Tested

  • 2018 Ford Explorer
  • 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2019 Kia Sorento
  • 2018 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2018 Honda Pilot
  • 2018 Toyota Highlander
  • 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
  • 2018 GMC Acadia


Out of the eight SUVs,  only the 2019 Kia Sorento earned a Top Safety Pick Plus rating.  The IIHS says changes to the 2019 Kia Sorento made it a Top Safety Pick Plus winner because Kia improved passenger-side protection by reinforcing the toepan and door sill.

Both the Volkswagen Atlas and GMC Acadia earned “Good” ratings.

The Toyota Highlighter, Nissan Pathfinder, and Honda Pilot earned “Acceptable” ratings.

The 2018 Ford Explorer and the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee earned “poor” ratings. IIHS testers say the structure of both SUVs was compromised to the point that real-world injuries were likely. In the case of the Grand Cherokee, the airbag also didn’t deploy, making matters worse for the test dummy.

The IIHS notes that Ford is redesigning the Explorer and that the automaker says the new model will have improved small overlap protection on both sides

Credit: IIHS

Top Safety Pick+ Criteria

To qualify for the 2018 award, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating in that test and good ratings in the other IIHS crashworthiness tests. It also needs an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and good-rated headlights. The Sorento qualifies when equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights.

Photo Credit: IIHS


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