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By now many people know that Hyundai and Kia are owned by the same parent company Kia Motor Group. Yet while these two companies make very similar SUVs, they’re hardly identical. In fact, Hyundai’s offerings are sometimes safer for one specific reason: headlights. Here’s why you should consider choosing a Hyundai SUV over a Kia if you’re torn between the two.

A gray 2022 Hyundai Tucson small SUV is parked.
The 2022 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+

The 2022 Hyundai Tucson is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+. That’s the top honor from the non-profit organization that measures a vehicle’s safety through crash testing and evaluation of things like headlights and safety systems.

On the other hand, the 2022 Kia Sportage is just an IIHS Top Safety Pick. While still an important safety award, the distinction between the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ may be a deciding factor when you’re car shopping. It’s the headlights where the Sportage, as well as the other Kia SUVs on this list, fall apart.

The 2022 Kia Sorento isn’t as safe as the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

Like the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage, there’s a disparity between the safety ratings of the 2022 Kia Sorento and the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe. The 2022 Kia Sorento is a Top Safety Pick. It has good crashworthiness scores including those in the small overlap front for both the driver and passenger side, the moderate overlap front, and the original side test. Roof strength and head restraints & seats also have a good rating. Yet the Sorento’s headlights are rated good and poor.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe, on the other hand, is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. It also has good crashworthiness scores. The Santa Fe also has superior safety systems and good and acceptable headlights standard on all trim levels, which is a requirement for the Top Safety Pick+ award. It’s worth noting that this award is only applicable to Santa Fes made after July 21, as those made before have poor headlights.

The 2022 Hyundai Palisade has a better safety award than the 2022 Kia Telluride

Both the 2022 Hyundai Palisade and the 2022 Kia Telluride are super popular and pretty safe SUVs. Yet the 2022 Hyundai Palisade is a Top Safety Pick+, while the 2022 Kia Telluride is just a Top Safety Pick. As with the other Hyundai/Kia twins, it all comes down to the headlights.

The Hyundai Palisade and the Kia Telluride both have good crashworthiness scores. However, they both got marginal ratings for the updated side test. This doesn’t yet count toward the IIHS Top Safety Pick award, so it’s worth paying attention to. They both also have superior safety systems. Yet the Palisade’s headlights are rated good, while the Telluride’s headlights are rated acceptable and poor.

Hyundai and Kia both make some pretty great SUVs, but if you want the safest one you can find, Hyundai might be a better choice. If you still want a Kia, just make sure you buy one with the best headlights possible. And as with any vehicle you’re considering buying, make sure the safety award applies to the specific model and trim level you’re looking at.


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