Of all the engineering and technology-centric advances made in automotive technology, none might be more universally appreciable than the evolution of safety features. Cliched sentiment aside, our vehicles really do carry our the most precious of cargo, be it our loved ones, or our very own lives. But it’s not the automakers that are solely responsible for the continued safety of that cargo; the primary burden falls upon the shoulders of the driver. And in a world so easily distracting (and so easily distracted) it’s hard to argue the value of insightful vehicles, designed to get us safely from Point A to Point B. But which automakers comes to mind when you speak of quality engineering and advanced safety features? Chances are, KIA might not be topping the list…but then again, maybe it should be.
KIA’s most high-profile accolades come in the form of being names by JD Power and Associates as their ‘Highest Ranked Mass Market Brand in Initial Quality’, 4 years in a row. Indicating the least amount of reported problems, it only serves to reinforce the value proposition of KIA’s 10-year / 10,000-mile warranty program. Celebrated for innovative styling, comfort and tech KIA manages to outclass almost every other in-class competitor…but what happens to we turn the conversation back to matters of safety?
It was recently announced that KIA Motors America (KMA) ranked among the top three brands to receive 2019 IIHS Safety Awards following the implementation of stricter crash standards. KIA’s lineup included a total of eight 2019 models to meet the more stringent requirements with three earning ‘Top Safety Pick’ rankings and another five qualifying for the oft-coveted ‘Safety Pick Plus’ status. The latter, of course, is the highest award designation offered by the IIHS.
In a formal statement, Orth Hedrick, KIA’s Director of Car Planning and Telematics stated, “We are honored to receive so many IIHS safety awards across our lineup, especially considering these designations are much harder to achieve in 2019. The IIHS safety awards are highly regarded by today’s consumers, and we see these latest accolades as validation of Kia’s dedication to its customers and to the continuous efforts to build better and safer vehicles.”
Andy Freels, President of HATCI which oversees the research and development for KIA agrees, stating, “Safety is a top priority for our vehicles. Having earned eight of these prestigious safety awards reflects our commitment to consistently striving to improve the safety and integrity of our products.”
But which KIA models were among the eight to garner such accolades? Let’s dig a little bit deeper.
TOP SAFETY PICK
In both sedan and hatchback stylings, the Rio has also caught the eye of JD Power and Associates, earning their pick for ‘Highest Ranked Small Car in Initial Quality and Dependability’. Described by KIA as having a “spunky, playful spirit” the Rio asserts itself as having each one of those traits in spades.
When equipped with the option of Autonomous Emergency Braking and HID headlights, the 2019 KIA soul earns its standing among the IIHS’s Top Safety Picks. This, is in conjunction with its proven durability during front collision, roof strength and head restraint testing.
Atop the sedan lineup is the Cadenza, complete with all the refinement and aspirational luxury one might expect. With the availability of a panoramic sunroof as well as a surround-view monitor, the Cadenza empowers you to see, and be seen. Step inside, and an expansive, sophisticated cabin offers both high-style, and high-comfort.
TOP SAFETY PICK PLUS
Another KIA offering to feature both Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA) and Lane Keeping Assist-Line (LKA-L) as a standard safety feature, the Forte take a stylish and accessibly-valued design and combines it with the merit of advanced safety features. But the Forte’s sleek lines conveys a sense of athleticism that’s (dare we say) evocative of its performance stablemate the Stinger. A slightly diluted version, of course, subdued by practicality and an accessible price point. But compelling nonetheless.
Born of a new breed of intelligence vehicles, the Niro offers the endearing appeal and versatility of a crossover, combined with intelligent, connective engineering. With high-strength steel construction, the Niro is designed with safety in mind; it also offers a number of active and passive safety features familiar from other KIA models. And, sure the availability of Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) are compelling safety features, but a highway fuel economy rating which ranges from 43-50 mpg only serves to remind you that the Niro empowers you to drive smarter.
2019 Niro Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)
This sentiment is expanded upon in the 2019 Niro Plug-in Hybrid, just one of the several hybrid and EV offerings currently served up by KIA. It also comes standard with a number of the KIA Drive Wise Driver Assistive technologies that we’ve mentioned, reiterating KIA’s commitment to safety.
Boasting new and sportier styling, the Optima delivers another distinct realization of KIA’s strong design language. And yet, that aesthetic is further enhance for those who opt to explore the Optima SX, a trim variant with a more aggressive vibe and a sport-inspired interior. Clean, horizontal lines and the option of two-tone leather interior fuel the Optima’s race-inspired visuals creating an enticing (if not surprising) offering.
Another recipient of recognition from JD Power and Associates the Sorrento was named ‘Highest Ranked Midsize SUV in Initial Quality’ 2 years in a row. Offering seating for seven, the three-row AWD Sorento pairs a capable V6 with a new 8-speed automatic. In addition, the Sorento’s Smart Shift & Drive serves to form a stronger bond between driver and road, making it the perfect union of practicality and the spirit of adventure.
Getting On-Board with KIA
Having taken the better part of two decades to appeal to a wider audience, KIA benefits from the increasing burden placed upon automakers to offer advanced safety features. Having received such recognition KIA can now draw the attention of prospective car-buyers, prompted by their evolving priorities. Not to say that safety hasn’t always been a concern, but the advanced nature of today’s safety suites and features have changed our expectations. With that in mind, it’s refreshing to see an oft-overlooked automaker step into the spotlight. KIA might not be the first automaker atop our wish list, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t growing progressively more open-minded thanks to such innovative offerings.