If you're shopping by crash-test ratings, you simply can't do better than the 2012 Kia Optima; it receives top ratings in every test from the federal government as well as the insurance-funded IIHS.
The 2012 Kia Optima earns top 'good' ratings in every test category from the IIHS, and it's a Top Safety Pick for 2012. And in the tougher federal tests, it's earned a top five-star score in all tests--including the side pole test. While the Optima is structurally similar to the Hyundai Sonata, the Kia has a number of different details--which, apparently, make a difference here, as the Sonata only manages a four-star frontal score while the Optima achieves five stars.
Both safety features and accident-avoidance features receive as much, if not more emphasis in the 2012 Kia Optima than in other mid-size sedan models. Front active headrests are standard in the 2011 Optima, along with front seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain bags. Stability control and anti-lock brakes are of course standard, too; so is Brake Assist, and Hill Assist Control, which helps avoid rolling back when starting uphill.