Kia Modifies Optima to Get Top Safety Pick+ Accolade from IIHS

Kia Optima 1 photo
Having already been named 2018 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) earlier this year, Kia still had a little bit more work to do for before its Optima model became worthy of snatching the top accolade from the organization.

Called Top Safety Pick+, the distinction requires a vehicle to get a good rating in the driver-side roof strength and head restraint tests, an acceptable or good rating in the passenger-side crash tests and advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention systems. Good headlight rating is also mandatory.

For Optima, that meant making some adjustments so that the car faired better during passenger-side small overlap front crashes. Although built on the same platform as the Hyundai Sonata, the Optima was slightly different when it came to sturdiness on the passenger side, and for that to improve some changes had to be made.

Starting this January, Kia modified the construction of the model by reinforcing the passenger-side door sill, lower door-hinge pillar and toepan, to match the Sonata.

“IIHS has verified that the car's passenger-side structure is now functionally identical to the Sonata's, so the Sonata's passenger-side rating applies to the Optima,” says the organization.

According to IIHS, the models’ optional front crash prevention system performed very well during track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph, allowing the model to avoid collisions altogether.

The Hyundai-Kia branded cars are IIHS favorites, this year alone several of their cars getting Top Safety Picks. The last to do so was the Hyundai Elantra.

IIHS’ rating system is based on five tests to determine which car gets the awards each year. Together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), IIHS rates cars on how safe they are for both occupants and pedestrians.

The two organizations have different testing methods, detailed here.


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