Is Acura’s safety rating for midsize luxury SUVs better than Volvo’s?

Acura and Volvo received identical safety scores from the IIHS in recent studies. The rate of auto insurance is around 18% higher for luxury SUV's.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 4, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Because insurance rates can go up or down due to a vehicle’s safety, it’s important to research safety ratings when shopping for a vehicle
  • The IIHS/HDLI is a reliable source that can be used to determine which vehicles are safer than others
  • Volvo and Acura’s midsize luxury SUVs both earned exceptional safety ratings but the Acura models are proven to be the safest options

Insurance companies pay close attention to each vehicle’s safety ratings when determining the cost of an auto insurance premium.

Midsize luxury SUVs are generally safe vehicles, but companies often promote their vehicles in a way that can be misleading to the consumer.

Because consumers are aware of how much of an impact safety ratings can have on their auto insurance, companies advertise their vehicles as safe options in order to get more business.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) provides unbiased safety ratings that the consumer can refer to when making the decision to purchase a vehicle.

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IIHS/HDLI Safety Ratings


The IIHS/HDLI performs a series of tests on each vehicle in their vehicle research center in order to provide the appropriate ratings for each area of safety. These categories include:

  • crash avoidance and mitigation
  • crashworthiness
  • child seat anchors

The subcategories for each of these testing areas are given either good, acceptable, marginal, or poor rating.

The front crash prevention section is the only exception to this rule as it receives different degrees of basic, advanced, and superior ratings. This particular study focuses on the safety ratings of the Acura MDX and RDX in comparison to those of the Volvo XC60 and XC90.


Crashworthiness is determined by how well passengers are protected if the vehicle is involved in a crash or collision.

Each vehicle’s sides, roof strength, front small overlap, front moderate overlap, head restraints, and seats are all evaluated by the IIHS/HDLI to effectively rate their crashworthiness.

All four vehicles managed to earn “good” ratings in every single section of the crashworthiness category.

Crash Avoidance & Mitigation

Modern vehicles proudly advertise the safety features that they offer. Many of these safety features utilize modern technology that helps the vehicles to avoid collisions.

These features can also help drivers maintain a clean driving record which can also lower auto insurance costs. In this category, the IIHS/HDLI focuses on the front crash prevention and headlights of each vehicle.

The Acura MDX and Volvo XC90 both earned perfect “superior” ratings for front crash prevention. Although the Acura RDX and Volvo XC60 also earned “superior: ratings, they were rated slightly lower than their counterparts.

The IIHS/HDLI further indicated that the RDX and XC60 earned these ratings with optional equipment. The headlights for both Acura models earned “acceptable” ratings while the Volvo XC90 earned a “marginal” rating with optional equipment.

The Volvo XC60 was the only vehicle of the four to obtain a “good” rating with optional equipment.


Child Seat Anchors

This category is meant to test each vehicle’s LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.

Federal regulations require at least two rear seats with LATCH in most vehicles. The IIHS/HDLI evaluates each vehicle’s hardware by focusing on the following:

  • accessibility of the lower anchors
  • force
  • clearance angle
  • the appearance of any additional hardware that may be confusing for the installer

These are all factors that determine how easy it is to install car seats and child restraints using the vehicles given hardware. In this category, all of the vehicles earned “acceptable” ratings with the exception of the Volvo XC60 which earned a “marginal” rating.

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Top Safety Pick Awards


Upon completing all of the necessary tests, the IIHS/HDLI uses the safety ratings in order to determine which of the vehicles are deserving of one of their Top Safety Pick awards.

These awards allow the IIHS/HDLI to give their seal of approval to worthy vehicles and help consumers choose the safest options. The Acura RDX, MDX, and Volvo XC60 all earned 2017 Top Safety Pick+ awards from the IIHS/HDLI.

The Volvo XC90 fell short of the Pick+ award but still managed to earn a regular Top Safety Pick award.

Which is safer?

All four vehicles earned nearly identical Safety ratings for crashworthiness and front crash prevention.

A very small amount of division between the safety ratings of the Acura and Volvo midsize luxury SUVs occurred because of the quality of their headlights and child seat anchors.

The Volvo models earned the highest and lowest ratings in the headlights section, while Volvo also had the only model that received a “marginal” rating for child seat anchors.

Overall, the Acura models both consistently earned appropriate ratings and Top Safety Pick+ awards.

Because the same cannot be said about the Volvo models, it’s safe to say that Acura provides safer midsize luxury SUVs than Volvo.

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