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

The Honda CR-V and BMW X1 both got top safety marks in 2018, but Honda earned the top spot. 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: Nov 8, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The Honda CR-V has excellent safety ratings and awards
  • The Honda HR-V is not as safe, has poor ratings, and didn’t earn any safety awards for insurance purposes
  • The BMW X1 does have a safety rating, but it’s not quite as safe as the Honda CR-V

If you find yourself comparing a BMW to a Honda, you might in the market for a small SUV.

It’s not typical for many drivers to compare a luxury vehicle to a family vehicle like this, but it happens when you’re in need of a small SUV sporty enough to give you aesthetics you’re looking for but safe enough to make you feel more confident on the road.

Honda and BMW might not share much in the way of upgrades and class rankings, but one is clearly more appealing than the other in terms of safety features.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) works hard to ensure drivers are given a comprehensive list of safety features in every vehicle on the market broken down by category on an annual basis.

Not only do many consumers rely heavily on the safety ratings of small SUVs and other vehicles when choosing their new car, they also rely on this for a decrease in insurance premiums.

It’s wise to always mention your vehicle’s IIHS safety rating if you’re looking for some major insurance savings.

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How the IIHS Breaks down Safety Ratings for Consumers

The IIHS rates cars based on several very specific factors.

  • The crashworthiness rating of a vehicle tells both consumers and insurance companies how well a vehicle stands up in an accident. The better it withstands accidents from every angle, the safer it is to drive and the less expensive it is to insure.
  • The crash avoidance and mitigation process tests the way certain features help drivers avoid an accident altogether. For example, the headlights on your vehicle are important because they can help you see danger at night before it’s too late. The better the headlights, the safer the vehicle.
  • The child safety category includes the LATCH system. Parents and other drivers with child passengers will care most about this category, which tests the ease of a vehicle’s lower anchors and tethers for car seats. Difficult to use latches make the margin of error greater for parents to improperly secure your children.

Each category has several subcategories, and each subcategory earns a letter grade/rating following each crash test. “G” is the best rating, and it means good. An acceptable rating is given an “A” grade, and an “M” rating means marginal.

If a vehicle gets a “P” rating, it means the vehicle performed poorly in that specific category.


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Comparing Small SUVs from Honda and BMW

Honda’s 2017 lineup includes two small SUVs and BMW has one. While BMW is certainly sportier and more luxurious, it’s not the safest of the three SUVs these two manufacturers have to offer.

The Honda CR-V is the safest with the top safety award issued by the IIHS, and the BMW has the second-best safety award. The Honda HR-V has no awards.

The IIHS issued a Top Safety Pick award to the BMW because it has all perfect ratings in the crashworthiness department and an advanced rating in the front crashworthiness category. It didn’t get the Plus rating because it only has an “M” in the headlight department.

The CR-V gets the Top Safety Pick+ award because it has perfect scores in crashworthiness, a perfect superior score in the front crash prevention, and an “A” in headlights.

Honda’s Safety Ratings in the Small SUV Category

The 2018 Honda lineup consists of two small SUVs, but only one has the best ratings and an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating in 2018. The 2018 Honda CR-V is just that.

This sporty small SUV managed to rate “G” grades in every category but headlights and child latch, in which it earned an “A” rating in both. It’s got a superior front crash prevention rating, which is the best possible rating any vehicle can earn in this particular test.

The Honda HR-V is the other small SUV in the 2018 lineup, and it didn’t do as well in many categories. It was not awarded any safety pick honors, but it’s not the worst in terms of ratings. 

It’s got all “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category with the exception of an “A” rating in the small overlap in the front driver’s side. The headlights have a “P” rating, and the child latch has a dismal marginal rating.

BMW’s Safety Ratings in the Small SUV Category

BMW only has one vehicle in the small SUV class. The BMW X1 is the smallest of the luxury SUVs in this manufacturer lineup, and it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick award winner for 2018. It didn’t quite get the Top Safety Pick+ rating due to a few lesser scores in a few subcategories.

The X1 received a “G” rating in all the crashworthiness categories, but an “M” rating in the headlights category. The LATCH system was given an “A” rating.

The one thing that might concern consumers most is the advanced rating in the front crash prevention category.

It’s a good rating, but it’s not superior, and many people prefer their vehicles have a superior rating in this category for safety purposes and comfort while driving. It might be more expensive to insure a BMW because it’s a luxury car, but you won’t know until you ask.

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Making a Final Decision Between Honda and BMW Small SUVs

If the final decision you’re making comes down to affordability, it’s the Honda CR-V that wins. It’s more affordable in terms of price and insurance, but the BMW is also less expensive to insure than you might think.

It’s got a great safety rating, which does lower the premiums you’ll pay due to being less expensive to repair following an accident. Always call your insurance agent to find out what you can expect to pay before you purchase a new vehicle.

Compare car insurance quotes right here to get an idea of what to expect and to help you find the lowest rates.

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