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

Which is safer - BMW or Ford small SUVs? The BMW X1 scored well with its collision avoidance system. Safety features can impact 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: Oct 25, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The BMW X1 performed better than the Ford Escape in the overall ratings from the IIHS
  • The BMW X1 took home a Top Safety Pick award, but the Ford Escape did not
  • Choosing a Top Safety Pick vehicle may cost more upfront, but can save you money on insurance

The tests the IIHS uses are in place to make sure they are getting the most accurate readings possible. They want to rank the vehicles based on their safety so they try to always put the vehicles in situations that could happen while they are on the road.

Because of this, the IIHS has done what they can to make the tests as accurate and realistic as possible.

Many other agencies and institutes not only follow the advice the IIHS has given but they also base their testing practices and procedures on the tests the IIHS traditionally performs.

Safety companies and vehicle manufacturing companies both use the IIHS to determine whether a vehicle is truly safe or not. In addition to that, they also look at the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards as prestigious ways to judge the safety of a vehicle.

No matter which vehicle you choose, make sure to use our free quote tool above to compare rates today!

When the IIHS performs safety tests, they rank them based on how well the vehicle is able to perform during the test.

After that, they add up the scores and compare them against their requirements to determine if a vehicle will receive an award. Only a few cars in each class are eligible for the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards.

Ratings by the IIHS

The ratings the IIHS uses help the Institute rank the vehicles on their equipment’s effectiveness and safety. For each class of vehicle, the IIHS uses the same system.

They do this so everything is standardized and the vehicles don’t deviate depending on their class. Each vehicle receives a ranking as long as the IIHS is able to test the vehicle.

For the crash tests and the LATCH test, the rankings range from p for poor to g for good. For the mitigation test, the rankings are basic, advanced and superior.

The ratings are based on how well the vehicle performs in each area according to how the IIHS expects the vehicle to perform.

Collision Avoidance

The collision avoidance equipment includes things like front collision warnings and auto brakes. Not every vehicle has these, but those that do have them are tested by the IIHS. In addition, the headlights are also tested in the collision avoidance category.

The Ford Escape received a basic rating for the collision avoidance because there was a warning system but no auto brakes.

The BMW X1 received an advanced score because there was a collision avoidance system, but it did not completely stop the vehicle at a high rate of speed. The warning system in the BMW X1 was up to NHSTA standards.

Crash Tests

The Ford Escape and the BMW X1, as shown above, both received G ratings for their moderate overlap front crashworthiness test, their side test, their restraints and their roof strength.

These tests were used to determine how the vehicles would perform in a front crash, side crash and rollover. The ratings for the restraints include the head restraints and the seatbelts.

For the driver side small overlap front test, the BMW X1 received a G rating, but the Ford Escape received an A rating. There was no data for the Ford Escape for the passenger side small overlap front test.

There was also no data listed for the passenger side small overlap front test with the BMW X1.

The headlights for the BMW X1 were rated as marginal. They did not have the reach the IIHS was expecting and had too much glare when they were on high.

The Ford Escape received an acceptable because the headlights did not perform efficiently on the sharp left curve.



To test whether a LATCH system is effective, the IIHS looks at how easy it is to use. The LATCH system in the BMW X1 received an A rating because there was other equipment that could have been mistaken for it.

The LATCH system in the Ford Escape was rated as M because it was too deep in the seat, too difficult to maneuver and also had other equipment that was close to it.

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Which car is safer?

The BMW X1 is safer. The luxury vehicle is not always the safer option, but in this case, it was a safer vehicle overall according to the IIHS data from the tests they performed.

It received the Top Safety Pick award. While the Ford Escape was not at the bottom of the list for safety, it did not rank anywhere near being able to receive an award because it had missing information as well as no collision avoidance equipment.

How to Choose a Vehicle

Most people do not choose their vehicle based on safety alone, but it is good to consider the safety of a vehicle before purchasing it.

A safer vehicle can help save money on insurance and give drivers the peace of mind they need while they are traveling.

Other factors drivers may want to consider when they are looking at different vehicles are the cost of the vehicle and how well it aligns with their needs. No matter which vehicle you choose, make sure to compare rates with our free quote tool below today! 



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