Kia Optima jumps to Top Safety Pick+ after passenger-side improvements

March 15, 2018

(Kia Motors America)

Kia Motors America

The 2018 Kia Optima, a midsize car, qualifies for the highest award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety after it was modified to achieve good protection in passenger-side small overlap front crashes.

The Optima, which previously earned the 2018 Top Safety Pick award, now qualifies for Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with optional front crash prevention and good-rated headlights. The new award applies to Optimas built after January.

To qualify for the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ award, vehicles must earn a good rating in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests; an acceptable or good rating in the passenger-side small overlap test; an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention; and a good headlight rating.

The Optima is built on the same platform as the Hyundai Sonata, whose good passenger-side small overlap rating applies to all 2016-18 models. Until recently, however, the Optima differed on the passenger side. Beginning with models built after January, the Optima's passenger-side door sill, lower door-hinge pillar and toepan were reinforced to improve occupant protection in small overlap crashes. 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.

The Optima's optional front crash prevention system earns a superior rating. In IIHS track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph, the vehicle avoided collisions. The system also includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

The Optima's optional LED headlights earn a good rating when the car is also equipped with high-beam assist, a feature that automatically switches between high beams and low beams depending on the presence of other vehicles. Without that feature, the LED headlights rate acceptable. The standard halogen lights earn a poor rating.

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