Improved 2015 Kia Soul Earns IIHS' Top Safety Pick, Forte Fails

MMS ID 61891 (created by CM Utility) automatic-content-migration

The 2015 Kia Soul hatchback has rejoined the ranks of vehicles deemed worthy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick. Meanwhile, the 2015 Forte fell short again after losing its status the previous model year, despite improvements.

Related: Not All Small Cars Shine in Latest IIHS Crash Tests

The Soul redeemed itself this time around by earning a good rating in the IIHS’ stringent small overlap front crash test, which simulates what happens when a car strikes an object such as a tree or utility pole. IIHS rates cars on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable and good. The Soul scored poorly on the small overlap test for the 2013 model year, and wasn’t even tested for 2014 because Kia said things had not improved. The hatchback came back strong for 2015, however, raising its rating on the test from poor to good (acceptable would have earned it Top Safety Pick status). As is necessary for the safety designation, the Soul also earned good scores in the institute’s other four crashworthiness evaluations: moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats.

IIHS said the Soul improved by strengthening the front end and occupant compartment for 2015. “The driver space was maintained reasonably well with a small amount of intrusion,” IIHS said in a statement. “The dummy’s movement was well controlled, and its head hit the frontal airbag, which stayed in position during the crash.”


The Forte also received “significant structural upgrades” to the occupant compartment, but it wasn’t enough to restore its Top Safety Pick status. “Compared with the 2014 model, one of the worst performers of any vehicle tested by IIHS for small overlap protection, the 2015 model fared much better, but its overall rating still is only marginal,” IIHS stated.

The Forte did receive good scores, however, on the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats tests. Neither the Soul nor the Forte — both classified as small cars by IIHS — qualified for the institute’s highest designation, Top Safety Pick Plus. Neither offers a frontal-crash prevention system, for which a vehicle must rate basic, advanced or superior to get a Plus.

IIHS images

Photo of Matt Schmitz
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

Latest expert reviews