Is BMW’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Fiat’s?

Which is safer? BMW X1 or Fiat 500X. Both the X1 and 500X are top IIHS safety picks. Safety features can impact auto insurance rates by up to 8%.

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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 3, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The IIHS gave the BMW X1 and the Fiat 500X a Top Safety Pick award as small SUVs for the safety features both vehicles had
  • Insurance may be cheaper on Top Safety Pick vehicles
  • Choosing a vehicle requires you to take many things into consideration, not just the safety of the vehicle

As the standard for all safety ratings in the vehicle world, the IIHS uses tests that were designed to expertly imitate the situations that could actually happen while a vehicle is on the road.

The tests allow the IIHS to feel confident they can offer the best safety ratings possible to each vehicle because of the accuracy of the tests they use.

The IIHS has proprietary crash tests courses as well as other areas to measure things like the headlights, the auto-brake features and the LATCH system. Compare rates for free with our quote tool above! 

IIHS Ratings

For the crash tests, the headlights and the LATCH system, the IIHS uses ratings that go from Good which is the best to Poor which is the worst.

A vehicle that fails any of the tests or has severe damage as a result of the test will almost always receive a score of Poor or Marginal on the rating they have.

The crash avoidance test has a different rating system that ranges from Basic to Superior with Advanced falling in the middle for different crash avoidance and auto brake features.

Crash Testing for Vehicles

The crash tests that were performed on the BMW X1 and the Fiat 500X were:

  • The small overlap front test
  • The moderate overlap front test
  • The side test
  • The strength of the roof
  • The test for head restraints and seats

The X1 and the 500X received the same exact scores in each area. The IIHS was unable to test the passenger side small overlap front of both of the vehicles so they did not receive a rating for that. They received Good on each of the other tests in the crash test categories.

Avoidance and Mitigation

To avoid a crash, a vehicle needs to have a warning system along with auto brake features. The crash warning system in the BMW X1 and the Fiat 500X worked the same and met the standards the IIHS has in place.

Both vehicles received Advanced on their auto brake system because they were not able to completely stop on the 25 miles per hour auto brake test, but were able to come to a complete stop on the 12 miles per hour auto brake test.

The headlights on the X1 only received a rating of Marginal on the test because the visibility was only fair and the glare exceeded safety limits on the high beams.

The 500X received a score of Poor for its headlights because they were inadequate on the straightaway as well as the curves. The X1 had clearly better performance for headlights.


The LATCH system in the BMW X1 received a score of Acceptable. The LATCH system was too difficult to use for a G rating because it was too hard to maneuver around the system that was in the second row of seats in the X1.

The Fiat 500X had a score of Marginal because it was too hard to find the LATCH system, they were too deep in the seats and it was difficult to maneuver around the system while installing a child safety seat.


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The Safer Small SUV

Even though the BMW X1 and the Fiat 500X both received the Top Safety Pick award for their safety features, the BMW X1 was a safer vehicle because of its overall score.

It did not have any poor ratings but did receive a marginal rating on one of the tests that were performed on it. The Fiat 500X received a ranking that was just slightly lower than the X1 because it had a Poor rating for the headlights and also had a Marginal score.

The Fiat 500X, while not safer than the BMW X1, is still a safer vehicle than most other small SUVs. It was at the bottom of the rankings for Top Safety Pick vehicles but scored better than the vehicles that did not receive an award.

It sat just below the BMW X1 on the ranking list of the small SUVs that the IIHS tested.

Should safety be the only consideration?

A safe car is a great choice for people who do not have any other desires for their vehicle. Top Safety Pick vehicles can protect passengers in a collision and can help reduce the cost of insurance, but it may not meet all the requirements a buyer has for a vehicle.

The safety of a vehicle should not be the only thing a buyer considers when shopping around for the perfect car.

Since small SUVs can have such big differences in the safety rating area as well as the looks of the vehicles, it is important buyers consider all the different factors that go into choosing a car.

Buyers will need to find a car that suits their safety requirements as well as their space and aesthetic requirements. It is a good idea for buyers to look at cost because there can be a large variance between the cost of small SUVs. Compare rates now with our free quote tool below! 

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