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

The Honda CR-V earned top safety honors from the IIHS, while the Ford Escape didn't make the list. The average cost of SUV auto insurance is 18% higher than normal cars.

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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...

  • Honda made this year’s Top Safet Pick+ list with the CR-V small SUV
  • Only two small SUVs were deemed safer than Honda’s CR-V
  • Safe vehicles are cheaper to insure than those with issues

If you are in the market for a small SUV, the first thing you should probably do is a bit of research to see which vehicles have high safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the IIHS.

Not only will this help to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers, but it could keep the cost of insurance low as well.

Are you comparing the sporty new Honda CR-V with the Ford Escape? Yes, both are small SUVs, but which is the safer of the two? The easiest way to find an answer is to compare ratings issued by the IIHS.

Compare car insurance quotes between these two makes of vehicle. Enter your zip code into our free rate tool above to get started.

Is Honda’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Ford’s? Following is a brief rundown on their findings.

A Bit About the Institute

Before looking at IIHS safety ratings, it is important to understand who they are and what it is that they do.

Since 1999 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been conducting tests on cars sold in the United States with the main goal of educating American consumers.

No other entity in the United States has the testing resources that the institute has, putting them in a league of their own.

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How the IIHS Goes About Ranking Small SUVs

As new models are released, the Institute undergoes a series of simulated crash tests and then ranks each vehicle accordingly. There are three broad areas of concentration which include:

  1. Crashworthiness
  2. Crash Avoidance & Mitigation
  3. LATCH

Of primary importance to the Institute are the front small and moderate overlap tests that determine how well a vehicle can withstand an impact at a predetermined rate of speed.

While all of the tests conducted by the Institute are important in gauging the safety of a vehicle, those two hold the most weight in their final comparative rankings.

Consumers are advised to choose models that make the TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK + lists. These are deemed to be the safest vehicles within a given class. Are you looking for a safe small SUV? If so, it’s time to look at what the IIHS has found.



This particular series of tests include:

  • Front Driver Side Small Overlap
  • Front Passenger Side Small Overlap
  • Moderate Overlap Front
  • Side
  • Roof Strength
  • Head Restraints & Seats

Possible scores are Good (G), Acceptable (A), Marginal (M), or Poor (P). This year, only Honda made TOP SAFETY PICK+ list in the Small SUV category. One Honda, the CR-V model, received grades of G across the board.

The Ford Escape didn’t make either list, evidently due to being scored only an A in the critical Front Small Overlap test.

Crash Avoidance & Mitigation

The Crash Avoidance & Mitigation tests revolve around technology. These tests gauge the technology that goes into Front Crash Prevention and Headlights. Here again, Honda was shown to be superior to the Ford Escape, making the CR-V the safer of the two.

Honda’s Front Crash Prevention was graded as Superior while the Ford Escape only earned the grade of Basic.


Being the newest test to be included in an IIHS safety rating, this particular score is of prime importance to parents of small children. The acronym LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.

Here, the Institute looks at the hardware installed in a vehicle to which child seats are attached. If you have small children who require a car seat, this is one score you can’t ignore. Of the two, only Honda did well in the LATCH tests.

Why Insurance Rates Go Down for Safe Cars

The best way to understand why insurance rates go up or down based on the safety score of a vehicle is to look at how insurance companies stay in business.

It’s all about the amount of risk they are taking on when insuring an SUV, for example. Safe vehicles are better able to withstand impacts than those found to be unsafe. As a result, the safer of the two will be cheaper to fix after an accident.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain it is to say that a safe vehicle is less risky to insure than one with safety issues.

The Honda CR-V was rated safer than the Ford Escape, so insurance should cost less for the Honda.

There are other factors that affect the cost of insurance as well, but safe vehicles are assuredly cheaper to insure than vehicles with issues.

Safer Alternatives to Consider

Since the IIHS has determined the Honda CR-V is safer than the Ford Escape, are there other small SUVs that are even safer than the Honda?

While the CR-V came in third place this year, the Toyota RAV4 came in second with the Subaru Forester ranking at the head of the class in small SUVs.

Yes, there are two safer SUVs than the Honda CR-V, but you can rest assured the Honda is a good choice. If safety is a concern, the Honda CR-V is safer than the Ford Escape and probably cheaper to insure as well. When comparing quotes, keep that in mind.

Enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool below to see for yourself!

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