Tick all the right boxes and the 2018 Kia Niro earns a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, the crash-testing agency said last week.
To get to the highest-rated Niro, buyers need to opt for LED headlights and automatic emergency braking, features that can be paired together only on the Niro EX trim level with the optional Premium Package or the range-topping Niro Touring. Automatic emergency braking comes standard on the Niro Plug-In Hybrid, but LED headlights are relegated only to the EX with the Premium package. Kia does not offer a 2018 Niro Plug-In Hybrid in Touring trim.
The Niro's standard halogen reflector headlights rated "Poor" in the IIHS tests, compared to a "Good" rating for the optional LED units. In addition to the Niro Plug-In Hybrid, the Niro FE, LX, and EX trims come with the halogen reflector lights.
Automatic emergency braking, meanwhile, is available on a wider range of Niros: it's optional on the Niro LX and EX hybrids and standard on the Niro Touring and the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.
That said, all versions of the Niro boast a strong safety structure, the IIHS found.
The insurance industry-funded crash-testers rated the small car "Good" in all of the instrumented crash tests performed, including the challenging passenger-side small-overlap test that simulates impact with a telephone pole or a tree on the right side of the vehicle. Many new cars ace the driver-side version of that test but don't perform as well on the passenger side.