VIDEO: 2015 Kia Soul Small Overlap IIHS Crash Test

The Kia Soul, a compact previously rated “poor” in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap front test, recently drew a “good” rating in the test – a result of structural improvements for the 2015 model year.

That impressive test score, combined with “good” ratings in IIHS’s four other crashworthiness evaluations, qualified the Soul for the IIHS Top Safety Pick award.

To view video footage of the small overlap crash test, click on the photo or link above.

Additionally, the Kia Forte also improved after the manufacturer made changes, but only to a “marginal” rating, IIHS said.

The 2013-MY Soul and the 2014-MY Forte both drew “poor” ratings in the small overlap test. But the front end and occupant compartment were strengthened for 2015.

In the test of the 2015-MY Soul, the driver space was “maintained reasonably well with a small amount of intrusion,” IIHS said. “The dummy's movement was well controlled, and its head hit the frontal airbag, which stayed in position during the crash. The side curtain airbag deployed and provided sufficient coverage to protect the head from contact with side structure and outside objects.”

All measurements recorded on the dummy indicated a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity, IIHS added.

Like the Soul, the Forte got significant structural upgrades to the occupant compartment. 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. Nonetheless, its overall rating still is only “marginal,” IIHS said.

“Even with the stronger occupant compartment, the driver's space wasn't maintained well, with intrusion approaching 8 inches at the lower hinge pillar,” IIHS noted. “The dummy's head slid off the frontal airbag and struck the instrument panel, as the safety belt allowed too much forward motion. The side airbag also lacked sufficient coverage to protect the head. Nevertheless, injury measures on the dummy were low.”

IIHS introduced the small overlap evaluation in 2012. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph. The crash replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole.

To qualify as a Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn a “good” or “acceptable” rating for small overlap protection and “good” ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests.