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

The Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V were given top safety ratings by the IIHS in recent tests. The rate of auto insurance is around 18% more for many SUV models.

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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 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Honda was one of the first top-ranked foreign automakers to design and manufacture a small SUV in 1997
  • The Honda CR-V, which is the companies top-selling SUV, has been redesigned and rated the best 2017 family compact SUV
  • If you’re looking for safe compact SUVs, it’s important to look at ratings given by reputable organizations like IIHS
  • The 2017 Honda CR-V was granted the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award and earned ‘Good’ crashworthiness ratings
  • The 2017 Nissan Rogue was also granted the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and has similar ratings to Honda’s small SUV

The crossover changed the way that the world looked at SUVs. Instead of being big, bulky, hard-to-maneuver pieces of metal, the compact SUV became the ideal option for people who wanted more room without spending significantly more money in gas.

While Honda first released its CR-V in 1997, it wasn’t until gas prices began to soar that this model took off and became a preference over trucks and other full-size options.

As you’re shopping the market for a compact SUV, you have to consider the following variables:

  • price
  • comfort
  • safety

The first two factors are easy to do research on but the last requires you to use resources to your advantage. To really see how any SUV performs, you’ll need to reference unbiased crash test ratings.

The body style of the compact SUV is newer than most styles available on the market today.

Since there’s a lot of trial and error that goes into building an SUV on the frame of a car, it’s easy to see why you’d prefer to buy a model that has tested options and found the safest design possible for the consumer.

The key is to compare IIHS safety ratings before ever stepping foot on a dealer lot.

Another important factor in making your decision should be insurance rates. Compare car insurance quotes right here by using our free rate tool above.

Understanding IIHS Safety Ratings

Automakers are responsible for designing safe vehicles and implementing these safe designs. While carmakers can recall a specific model if a malfunction is identified, the goal is to avoid recalls if at all possible because they can be costly and they can affect a brand’s reputation.

This risk is why automakers do rigorous testing on their vehicles before they’re released.

No matter how much testing is performed by a brand, it’s crucial that an outside party does testing as well.

One of the most popular institutes that collect scientific data to determine how safe a vehicle really is is the IIHS. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a non-profit organization that strives to improve highway safety on public roads.

Just one of the association’s specialties is crash testing vehicles and assigning safety ratings.

The IIHS will conduct six different frontal crash tests and other front crash prevention tests to see whether or not occupants in the car are likely to get injured.

Crash prevention tests are performed to see how well braking systems or detection systems help prevent a common collision. The tests performed are as follows:

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

If your goal is to compare safety ratings for a Honda small SUV to the ratings of a Nissan, you’ll have to dig deeper into your search. The only way to do this comparison efficiently is to compare two similar compact SUVs produced the same year by each automaker.

In this scenario, it’s best to compare the 2017 Honda CR-V to the 2017 Nissan Rogue. Before you look at ratings, here’s a scale of the ratings used from best to worst:

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


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 Honda CR-V has been a top-seller since the early 2000s but it didn’t actually perform well in safety crash tests until 2015. The latest CR-V redesign has taken the model to the next level.

The 2017 Honda CR-V earned the highest ratings possible in each of the crash tests performed. It also earned a six out of six in front crash prevention when the car is equipped with the optional Collision Mitigation Brake System.

The 2017 Honda CR-V didn’t fare so well in headlight performance. This is a fairly new test that’s being performed by IIHS and the CR-V earned an “Acceptable” grade because of the low beam glare.

The child seat latching system also only earned an “Acceptable” grade because the tethers could be mistaken for other hardware.

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Nissan Rogue


  • 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 – Marginal

The 2017 Nissan Rogue also exceeded expectations with “Good” ratings in each of the frontal crash tests. As a younger model with Nissan, the Rogue has gained traction fairly quickly.

The model started earning good ratings in crashworthiness in 2014 and ever since then has improved its design with each generation being released.

Like the Honda CR-V, the Rogue earned a “Superior” rating with a six out of six grade in Front Crash Prevention.

The tested model was equipped with the optional Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection package, which is something you will have to price.

Unfortunately, the Rogue scored a “Marginal” grade in Child Seat Anchors’s ease of use because the anchors can be difficult to reach.

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2017 Top Safety Pick+


The IIHS selects award-winning cars to be honored as Top Safety Picks. The highest award that is given in the Top Safety Pick+. Both the 2017 Honda CR-V and the 2017 Nissan Rogue are Top Safety Pick+ award recipients.

Both models earned good ratings in crashworthiness and superior ratings in front crash prevention.

Honda and Nissan are both safety award-winning models, but out of the two Honda’s small SUV ranked higher than Nissan’s. The higher scores in child LATCH seats are what ultimately made the difference.

You can see for yourself how safety ratings affect insurance costs by obtaining online car insurance quotes. Enter your zip code into our free comparison tool below to get started.

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