• Top 5-Star rating marks improvement from first-gen Soul
  • Better frontal-crash score contributes to improvement
  • Kia credits stronger materials for higher overall rating

The redesigned 2014 Kia Soul earned the government's highest overall safety rating in recent crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The compact hatchback scored a 5-Star overall safety rating, an improvement from the 2011-2013 Soul, which earned four stars. Kia says stronger materials -- specifically greater use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel -- deserve credit for the redesigned model's top 5-Star overall rating.

Scores in three categories contribute to a vehicle's overall NHTSA safety rating. The all-new, second-generation 2014 Soul scored 5-Star ratings in both the frontal- and side-crash categories and a 4-Star rating for risk of rollover. A 5-Star frontal-crash test score marks an improvement from the first-gen Soul. The 4-Star rollover rating remains, although the test reflects a slightly lower risk of rollover for the new Soul.

Standard safety features for the 2014 Kia Soul include six airbags -- driver and passenger front and side airbags and side-curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers. Only one of NHTSA's recommended advanced safety features, a backup camera, is available for the new model.

The high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel Kia uses to build the Soul is stronger than conventional steel and better resists corrosion. The alloys make up 66 percent of the model's chassis.

Riding the line between crossover and hatchback, the 2014 Kia Soul has a style all its own. But for new-car shoppers who prioritize safety, a few other compact hatchbacks also boast 5-Star ratings. The Chevrolet Sonic hatchback earned the top rating, and it's priced similarly to the $14,700 Kia Soul. The Ford Focus hatchback is a bit more expensive but also scored a 5-Star safety rating.

What it means to you: The NHTSA safety rating for every new car the agency has tested is listed on the vehicle's window sticker. The all-new 2014 Kia Soul earns NHTSA's highest rating of five stars.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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