Sedans

2017 Kia Forte scoops up IIHS Top Safety Pick+

Its performance in the small-overlap crash test was finally good enough.

IIHS

The most traditional response for an automaker who doesn't score well in an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test is, "We'll do better next time." Kia said that, and now its Forte sedan earned the organization's top safety accolade, following a mid-model-year update.

The 2017 Kia Forte is now one of a few dozen cars to achieve the IIHS' Top Safety Pick+ award. This award is given to vehicles that score well in every crash test, as well as tests of the vehicle's headlights and its crash-prevention systems.

That looks like it smarts, but not as much as it would without proper occupant protections in place.

IIHS

In terms of crash tests, the Forte passed with flying colors. It received a score of Good in every test, including the difficult small-overlap front test that prevented it from achieving TSP+ in the past. Forte sedans built after March 2017 feature the reinforcements needed to pass the test -- prior variants were rated Marginal in the same test.

The Forte has four different headlight arrangements on offer. Only one -- the HID projectors equipped with automatic high beams -- achieved a Good rating. The others, including halogen projectors and HIDs without automatic high beams, received a Poor rating for inadequate visibility. Glare was never an issue, which it is with many other cars.

The IIHS also tests crash-prevention systems, and here, the Forte received a Superior rating when equipped with its optional autonomous emergency braking system. That requires the optional Tech or Premium package, depending on trim.

The 2017 Kia Forte joins two other Kia models on the TSP+ list, the 2017 Kia Optima and 2017 Kia Cadenza. The 2017 Kia Sorento, 2017 Sportage both carry the Top Safety Pick designation, which is close to, but not the same as TSP+.