In order to be named a Top Safety Pick, a model must earn top 'good' ratings in frontal, side, and rear crash tests, as well as the agency's new rollover (roof crush) test—and have electronic stability control.
While the Sportage wasn't actually tested, the IIHS applied results from the 2010 and 2011 Hyundai Tucson, which is nearly identical structurally. And as interior trim and door pieces can often make the difference between a 'good' and 'acceptable' score, there's apparently more in common between these two vehicles than Kia or Hyundai would like us to believe. Though Kia and Hyundai are run as separate companies in the U.S., and their respective models are typically built at separate plants, the two brands come from the same South Korean automaker.
The Sportage (and Tucson) can take 4.43 times its body weight in a designated area of the roof before it deforms a specified amount. That easily surpasses ratio of four the IIHS requires to earn a 'good' rating, and is much better than the federal government's current requirement of just 1.5 (a requirement of about three times body weight will be phased in).
The new 2011 Sportage is hardly Kia's only safety bright spot. The model joins the 2010 Forte sedan, 2010 Soul hatchback, and 2011 Sorento crossover in earning that top recognition from the Institute.