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

BMW and Jeep both took home top safety awards from the IIHS in 2017, but BMW performed better overall. Safety features can lower your 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: Oct 25, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • BMW’s X1 is the only small SUV in the BMW family
  • Jeep has four small SUVs called the Compass, the Patriot, the Renegade, and the Wrangler
  • BMW’s X1 and Jeep’s Compass both received a Top Safety Pick award for 2017

BMW is famous for making sleek luxury vehicles while Jeep is famous for manufacturing SUVs that take off-roading to a whole new level.

The two don’t usually make it into the same conversation as so many people in the market for a small SUV want either the luxury of the BMW X1 or the practical aspect of one of the four small SUVs in the Jeep family.

Despite being the same general size, the BMW X1 is approximately $10,000 more expensive to start than the most expensive small SUV in the Jeep market, which is the Wrangler.

The other three small SUVs in the Jeep family are around $14,000 to $15,000 less expensive than the starter BMW. This might make you wonder why you’d even bother comparing the two brands, and it’s all about safety. Make sure to use our free quote tool above to compare rates today! 

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is all about safety. The IIHS awards vehicles on their safety ratings, which helps people save money insuring their vehicles. With letter grades, the BMW and Jeep small SUVs are graded using the same tests on the same features.

  • Crashworthiness: This is a combination of the small overlap front, the moderate overlap front, the side strength, the roof strength, and the head restraints and seats
  • Crash Avoidance and Mitigation: This category is a combination of the front crash prevention abilities as well as the headlights
  • Child Seat Anchors: There is only one subcategory in this category, which is the child latch system in the back of these small SUVs

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How does the IIHS issue safety ratings?

Now that you know what the IIHS tests vehicles on when they perform these crash tests, you should learn more about how they are graded.

Once the tests are performed, researchers then issue grades on each of these three categories and the subcategories within. The grades let consumers and insurance companies know which vehicles are the safest and in which areas.

The best score is “G” for good. Then it’s “A” for acceptable, “M” for marginal, and “P” for poor.

Vehicles with a poor rating in any category find it difficult to receive any awards, though it’s certainly not impossible for them to be given a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus Award.

To earn a Top Safety Pick Award, a vehicle must meet certain standards. This includes a “G” rating in all five crashworthiness categories.

It also means the vehicle must receive a grade of advanced or superior in the front crash test prevention category. This is part of the crash avoidance and mitigation category, and it doesn’t get a letter grade. It’s the only test not to receive a letter grade.

This category is rated superior, advanced, or basic. Each one of these ratings has two levels. The top level and the bottom level.

A bottom-level superior rating is better than a top advanced rating, etc. Vehicles must meet the standards in this area to receive any awards for safety.

To earn a Top Safety Pick Plus award, the vehicle must meet the same standards required for a Top Safety Pick award in addition to an “A” or better rating in the headlight category. This is a category in which many vehicles fall short.

More and more manufacturers are looking for a way to make this better because headlights are important for helping avoid nighttime crashes and crashes in inclement weather.

BMW vs. Jeep

Neither the 2017 BMW X1 or the Jeep Compass made it to the top of the safety list, but both small SUVs did receive the honor of being named Top Safety Pick vehicles in 2017.

The Jeep Patriot, the Jeep Renegade, and the Jeep Wrangler did not perform well in most categories, and they took the bottom three spots on the small SUV list.


The BMW X1 received “G” ratings in all crashworthiness tests. It also received a top-tier advanced rating in the front crash prevention.

It received an “A” rating for the child latch, but the BMW did not perform well in the headlight test. It only earned an “M” rating.


Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass received all “G” ratings in every crashworthiness test, and it received the highest level of superior in the front crash prevention category.

The Compass fell short regarding its headlights test with an “M” rating, and it really failed the latch test. The Compass’ latch received a “P” rating.

Jeep Patriot

The Patriot was not tested for front crash prevention in 2017. It received a “G” rating in all but the front overlap portion of the crashworthiness test where it scored a “P” rating.

It also received a “P” rating in the headlight test, but it did get the best latch rating of all the Jeeps with an “A” rating.

Jeep Renegade

The Jeep Renegade was not tested for small overlap or moderate overlap, head restraints, or headlights. It received a “G” rating in the remainder of the crashworthiness categories, and an “M” rating in the latch category.

It’s also got a high-level advanced rating in the front crash prevention category.

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is the lowest rated small SUV in 2017 without ratings in the roof, the head restraints, or the front crash prevention categories.

It received an “M” rating for small overlap front, a “P” rating for side strength, and a “G” rating for moderate overlap front.

It also performed poorly in the latch and headlight tests with a respective “M” and “P” rating.

Small SUVs and Insurance Discounts

None of these Jeep models qualify consumers for any insurance discounts, but the Compass and the BMW will allow you to save money on your insurance premiums.

Their safety ratings make them cheaper to insure, and those savings are passed on to the consumer provided you have a great credit score, a clean driving record, and you ask for additional discounts.

Drivers who aren’t on the road much, who are married, and who drive a safe vehicle tend to get lower rates when comparing insurance quotes. Compare rates today with our free quote tool below! 

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