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2024 Kia Sportage earns Top Safety Pick+ award

The modest updates to the 2024 Kia Sportage helped it earn the highest safety honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the insurance industry-funded group announced on Friday. 

Standard LED headlights and second-row seat-mounted airbags elevated the Sportage compact crossover from a Top Safety Pick (TSP) when it was redesigned for the 2023 model year to a Top Safety Pick+, the automotive industry’s most rigorous safety recognition. 

“With updates to the side structure made for the 2024 model, the Sportage meets all the requirements for the higher-tier
award,” the IIHS said in a statement. 

The IIHS toughened the criteria for its coveted safety award this year in response to both a spike in pedestrian fatalities and more models meeting the old criteria for a TSP. The IIHS this year assesses the efficacy automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection at nighttime, when 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur. The 2024 Sportage earned “Advanced” ratings in the nighttime test. 

Also new this year, every TSP+ winner must have standard LED projector headlights rated at least as “Acceptable.”

The NHTSA’s NCAP five-star rating system currently does not evaluate driver-assist technology or headlights, making the IIHS a more comprehensive and up-to-date safety tester. The IIHS informs automakers of changes to its testing criteria a couple years in advance of instituting it as part of its TSP qualifiers, and often times automakers will tweak models to meet the criteria, such as the case of the Kia Sportage that was redesigned for 2023 and earned a Top Safety Pick award.

Without the headlight and rear airbag additions, the 2024 Kia Sportage might not have qualified for either TSP level. Also new this year, the IIHS made its tougher side impact test part of the TSP criteria. Changed in 2021 for the first time since 2003, the side impact or T-bone test into the driver’s side reflects the heavier weight of SUVs and trucks replacing sedans on actual roadways in that time, and the higher speeds averaged by motorists. 

The 2024 Sportage earned a top “Good” rating in all four crash tests, including the side impact test. The Sportage joins only 14 other 2024 models in the TSP+ class, for now. 

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