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The 2021 Hyundai Palisade and 2021 Kia Telluride are two very similar three-row SUVs that appeal to many of the same buyers. They combine the space necessary for a family (even a large one) with style and safety. Yet which is safer, the Palisade or the Telluride? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluated them both and while the Telluride won a safety award, the Palisade earned a top one. 

A dark blue 2021 Hyundai Palisade pulling out of a side street.
2021 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

The IIHS gives out two safety awards

The IIHS gives out two safety awards, the Top Safety Pick and the Top Safety Pick+ awards. To be awarded an IIHS Top Safety Pick award, an SUV must score a good rating in all IIHS crash test ratings. These include the driver-side small overlap front, the passenger-side small overlap front, and the moderate overlap front. Additionally, the vehicle must get a good score in the side crash tests, roof strength, and head restraint tests. To get a Top Safety Pick+ award, the vehicle must ace all these tests.

The SUV must also have an advanced or superior in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. Headlights must have a good or acceptable rating available. Oftentimes one trim level has good headlight ratings while another trim level does not, so it’s important to check the test results of the trim level you’re considering purchasing. To receive the Top Safety Pick+ award, the headlights on all trim levels must be good or acceptable. 

The 2021 Kia Telluride is a super solid SUV

Make no mistake about it, the 2021 Kia Telluride is a safe SUV. It gets good ratings in all of the important crash test categories. Even the subcategories in the small overlap front driver and passenger sides, moderate overlap front, and side crash test ratings are all good. 

Front crash prevention vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian in the 2021 Telluride is superior. It’s the headlights that make the Telluride fall short of receiving the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. 

There are two different headlight variations available in the 2021 Kia Telluride. One applies to all of the trims except for the EX trim equipped with Tow package. This first headlight variation receives an acceptable rating. The headlights aren’t curve-adaptive, though they do have high-beam assist. 

It’s the second headlight variation that comes with the EX trim equipped with Tow package that get the Telluride into trouble. This headlight variation receives a poor rating. They aren’t curve-adaptive and they also do not have high-beam assist. 

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade has great safety ratings and good headlights

Similarly to the Kia Telluride, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade has good safety ratings in all categories. Also like the Telluride, all subcategories in the Palisade’s crash test ratings are also good. 

Front crash prevention vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian are both superior. In the 12 mph IIHS crossing child test, the Palisade was able to avoid a collision, and in the 25 mph test the speed was reduced by 22 mph. 

Unlike the Telluride, the Palisade only comes with one headlight variation which applies to all trims. This headlight variation gets a good rating. Although the headlights are not curve-adaptive, they do have high-beam assist. 

Even though the 2021 Hyundai Palisade and 2021 Kia Telluride are both safe, it is because of this one seemingly small detail that gives the Palisade the top safety award and not the Telluride. Yet with more than half of fatal accidents taking place at night, it makes sense that car manufacturers should be taking headlights seriously, and equipping their vehicles with the best they can. And it follows that a safety organization like the IIHS would test headlights to make sure they meet certain standards. If you’re in the market for a three-row SUV with great safety ratings, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a great choice. 


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