Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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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: Apr 20, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • The Honda CR-V is a top-selling compact SUV that boasts comfort and fuel efficiency
  • Hyundai is another automaker that’s improved safety ratings of its small SUV that’s called the Hyundai Tuscon
  • Consumers should always reference IIHS safety ratings to compare how a car might perform in a crash
  • The Honda CR-V is a Top Safety Pick+ and the Hyundai Tuscon is a Top Safety Pick
  • After assessing all of the ratings, Honda scrapes by with the win because of the headlight rating on stock trims

The Honda CR-V was initially released to the public in 1997. Amazingly enough, the innovative frame of this compact SUV didn’t start to attract a wider audience until gas prices soared in 2008 it lead to a major decline in pickup sales.

This is when smaller options like the Honda CR-V and competing models started to attract attention on a changing auto sales market.

Small SUVs offered a lot of advantages to commuters who preferred not to sacrifice space for fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, since sales weren’t high in the early years, small SUVs didn’t start performing well in safety tests until just recently.

As consumers started to stress the importance of more safety features, manufacturers like Honda responded with fully redesigned models.

The Honda CR-V went through a redesign in 2015 and then again in 2017. Each time, the top-selling model has performed better on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) safety crash tests.

When you’re shopping the marketplace to find the safest model, you need to compare the crash test performance of models by many different makes. One worthy make to compare Honda small SUVs to is Hyundai.

Compare the car insurance costs between these two makes while you’re at it. Just enter your zip code into our free rate tool above!

Understanding IIHS Safety Ratings

Safety ratings can’t be ignored. How you operate a car is important, but how the car is designed can dictate how severe your injuries might be in accidents that you couldn’t prevent.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performs unbiased and thorough tests in a high-tech Crash Hall just to see how makes stack up against each other in specific size categories.

All cars, including small cars, sedans, pickups, and small SUVs, are graded for crashworthiness. After the 6 tests are performed, the vehicles’ front crash prevention systems, headlights, and child seat latching systems will be rated.

Here’s a list of all of the areas that are tested before the vehicle can be rewarded for excellence:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats
  • Front crash prevention
  • Headlights
  • Child seat anchors (LATCH)

Automakers that dedicate their brand to safe designs should be rewarded. When a vehicle is equipped with crash avoidance technology, and the frame protects occupants, the car maker is saving lives. This is why there’s a grade assigned for all tests performed.

Depending on the grade, the vehicle may be a Top Safety Pick. Here are the ratings from best to worst:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor
  • Front Crash Prevention Ratings – Superior, Advanced, or Basic

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Safety Ratings for the 2017 Honda CR-V

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Superior (with optional equipment)
  • Headlights – Acceptable (only on certain trims)
  • Child Seat Anchors – Acceptable

The performed so well in crash tests that it received the highest IIHS award possible. It’s hard to believe that just three years prior, the 2014 CR-V received only “Marginal” scores.

Now, the redesigned four-door CR-V was rated “Good” in all areas of crashworthiness and “Superior” in crash mitigation when equipped with the optional Collision Mitigation Brake System.

There’s room for improvement even with the award for excellence. While the headlights did receive an “Acceptable” score, the IIHS reports that the low beam visibility could be improved. The child LATCH also needs some work as the middle anchors are hard to locate.

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Hyundai Tuscon

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Superior (with optional equipment)
  • Headlights – Acceptable (only on certain trims)
  • Child Seat Anchors – Acceptable

The Hyundai Tuscon didn’t hit the market until 2005. This was eight years after the release of the first generation CR-V.

Like its Honda competition, the Tuscon did not perform well initially. It earned “Poor” crashworthiness ratings all that way up until 2015. Hyundai obviously put focus on this as the 2017 Tuscon is now a Top Safety Pick.

In crashworthiness, the vehicle received “Good” ratings in every area tested. It also earned “Superior” ratings in crash mitigation and “Acceptable” ratings in headlight performance and child LATCH systems.

Unfortunately, because the headlights didn’t perform well on the model equipped with optional Automatic Emergency Braking, the vehicle wasn’t eligible for the highest award.

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2017 Top Safety Pick+

To be a Top Safety Pick+ in 2017, vehicles must earn all “Good” ratings in crashworthiness and either an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating in front crash prevention.

The vehicle must also earn no less than “Acceptable” for headlights. The 2017 Honda CR-V passed all of the tests.

When all of the tests are considered, it almost looks as if Honda and Hyundai are matched equally. The only difference is that the standard CR-V earned higher scores than the standard Tuscon.

Honda wins the battle in which brand produces the safer small SUV.

Whenever you’re shopping for a vehicle, you have to consider how much it will cost to buy insurance. Believe it or not, the vehicle’s safety rating can have a dramatic effect your auto insurance premiums.

Compare the premiums of each small SUV online today, and see how much of a difference they cost to insure. Use our free rate tool below to get started.