Is Mazda’s safety rating for midsize SUVs better than Chevy’s?

Mazda's midsize SUV received a top safety rating while Chevy's midsize SUV did not. Upgrade your car's safety features to reduce your car insurance rates by up to 8%.

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UPDATED: Jun 2, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: Jun 2, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • Mazda outperforms Chevy in crash prevention and child seat safety
  • In crashworthiness tests, Mazda and Chevy performed similarly for the midsize SUV class
  • Safety ratings are important because they can protect you and help you save money on insurance costs

Although many people may believe they are safe simply because they drive a midsize SUV, that isn’t always the case. In fact, many midsize SUVs are simply unsafe.

People who are lulled into the idea that they are safe are more at risk to make dangerous mistakes while they are driving.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) designates different safety ratings depending on the things they find during crash tests. The ratings are made up of different options for people to have while they are driving the vehicles.

It is also important for the IIHS to make the safety tests as realistic as possible. More accurate tests mean more accurate safety ratings that people are able to rely on.

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Performance: Mazda and Chevy


The Mazda CX-9 and the Chevy Equinox are two midsize SUVs that IIHS did tests on. The vehicles had very different test scores because of the safety features each of them had.

The IIHS designates test ratings based on car options available.

The features that allow the ratings to happen do not need to be standard on the car, but they must be available in one or more of the trim options or optional feature packages.

The rating scale goes from high to low:

  • good
  • acceptable
  • marginal
  • poor

Vehicles are also evaluated on crash avoidance which is on a scale as follows:

  • superior
  • advanced
  • basic

If vehicles have five or six points, they are considered superior.

How would each vehicle perform in a crash?

Tests performed to rate crashworthiness include tests on the front overlaps, sides and roof strength. All vehicles tested for crashworthiness will also have their head restraints and seats tested to ensure they perform during a collision.

It is important to note that a vehicle can have a lower number score in each of the sections but still be rated as good.

The Mazda CX-9 and the Chevy Equinox received the good score from each of the tests. They were able to perform during the collision, and they were able to meet all the standards IIHS has put into place for crash testing.

The only area in which the Equinox scored marginally higher than the CX-9 was the side impact test, possibly due to the higher wheelbase of the Equinox.

Can the vehicles avoid a crash?

To determine crash avoidance scores, IIHS looks at several factors the vehicle has. The vehicle needs to have a warning system for collisions, front crash avoidance abilities in auto brakes and headlights that have enough reach.

The scores are based on the crash avoidance and headlights.

The CX-9 received a superior score on front crash avoidance because of the auto brakes. The auto brakes prevented collisions in both tests but were only available in certain trim styles.

The Equinox did not have any auto brake options so it only scored one point. The single point caused it to fall into the basic category, but it did have a warning for the collision.

The Equinox did not have data available for headlights, but the CX-9 scored acceptable for its headlights.

Is the LATCH system easy to use?

To determine the efficacy of the LATCH system, IIHS puts the car through tests on how easy it is to use the system. Both the CX-9 and the Equinox had an acceptable score for the ease of use of the LATCH system.

Both of the vehicles could have scored a good score on the LATCH system, but they both had a LATCH system that was close to other hardware.

Because of this, users could mistake the hardware for the LATCH system, causing a failure. If the other hardware is moved, the chances of improving the score for the LATCH system will increase.

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Earning Awards


Because the CX-9 met all the criteria IIHS established for Top Safety Pick+, it received the award. The Mazda CX-9 scored a good on all of the crashworthiness categories. It also scored superior in crash avoidance.

The acceptable scores it received for headlights and the LATCH system helped it get the award, too.

The Equinox did not score enough to be a Top Safety Pick+ or even a Top Safety Pick.

Due to the fact the vehicle did not have headlights that could be tested and did not have an auto brake system, it did not meet the criteria. Because of these problems, it was ineligible for either of the awards.

The CX-9 is safer than the Equinox. This can be seen in the award the CX-9 was given as well as the general overall score of the vehicles.

The CX-9 consistently scored higher than the Equinox in every area except crashworthiness in a side-impact collision.

The Safest Choice

The safer the vehicle is, the safer you will be while you are driving it. Insurance companies also like safe vehicles, so be sure to consider this for while you are shopping for the best insurance prices.

A Top Safety Pick+ awarded vehicle will often cost less to insure than one that does not carry any type of safety award from the IIHS.

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Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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