‘Poor’ Headlights Cost 2021 Kia Seltos in Safety Ratings

A yellow 2021 Kia Seltos making impact in a crash test 2021 Kia Seltos | IIHS image

Headlight ratings have been the downfall of many vehicles when undergoing the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s testing, and the latest victim is the new 2021 Kia Seltos. Despite good scores in crash testing and for its available front-crash-prevention systems, the Seltos’ scores in headlight testing make it ineligible for either of the insurance-industry-backed crash-safety advocacy organization’s awards: Top Safety Pick Plus or the lesser Top Safety Pick.

Related: 2021 Kia Seltos Review: Aiming for a Tinier Telluride

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The Seltos earned a score of good (on a scale of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in all six of IIHS’ crashworthiness tests: driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.

The Seltos also earned scores of superior (on a scale of superior, advanced or basic) for both of its optional front-crash-prevention systems in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention tests.

Those scores put the Seltos on its way to either of IIHS’ two awards. Top Safety Pick Plus also requires that all of a vehicle’s available headlights receive a score of acceptable or higher, while the lesser Top Safety Pick requires that only one set of headlights earn an acceptable or higher score.

Unfortunately for the Seltos, each of its three sets of headlights — LEDs for the SX trim, halogen bulbs with high-beam assist for the S and EX as well as the base LX model’s basic halogen bulbs — all receive a score of poor “due to inadequate illumination on curves.”

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Similarly sized SUVs that have earned awards from IIHS include the 2020 Hyundai Kona and 2020 Mazda CX-30, which are both Top Safety Picks.

In the past, IIHS has allowed manufacturers to update a vehicle’s headlights and retest, which may be something Kia should consider for the Seltos.

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