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

Both Subaru and Honda received superior safety ratings from the IIHS in recent studies. Safety features could help you lower your auto insurance costs by up to 8%.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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 Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Honda and Subaru both received a Top Safety Pick+ award for their small size SUVs
  • Optional equipment and varying trims helped both the Forester and the CR-V receive their scores
  • Safer cars can help drivers save money when they are shopping around for insurance

Since the IIHS sets the standards for what tests will help drivers determine the safest vehicles possible, they make sure they are using the most accurate tests possible. They use tests that are made to mimic situations where people would be in a collision in real life.

The IIHS has always maintained the fact they are the best standard by which people can use their vehicles. They want to make sure people understand they are doing their best to show others what they can do to help them determine which car is the safest.

IIHS looks at things like:

  • How a vehicle performs during different types of collisions.
  • Whether a vehicle is able to stop or avoid a crash with equipment.
  • How well headlights work.
  • The efficacy of the child safety system and how well the LATCH system can be identified.

The ratings for everything but crash avoidance are based on highest to lowest: Good (G), Acceptable (A), Marginal (M), and Poor (P). The crash avoidance starts with a superior score.

It can also have an advanced score which is slightly worse and a basic score which means the vehicle was not able to avoid a collision.

The Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester


The Subaru Forester and the Honda CR-V were both tested by the IIHS and came out among the top SUVs.

They received scores that were similar because of their success during the crash tests, but they did have some differences that made on a clear winner.

Because of this result, it is easy for drivers to choose which vehicle they would want based on safety alone.

LATCH System

The Subaru Forester and the Honda CR-V received the same score for the LATCH system ease of use, but it was for different reasons. Since the LATCH system is mandated by the government, it cannot be tested for safety reasons. The ease of use for it can be tested, though.

The LATCH system in the Forester received an A because it had two anchors in the seats that were too difficult to reach. The test found they were too far in the seat to make it easy to reach them. The third seat without an anchor was not tested.

The CR-V also received an A for its LATCH system, but it was for a different reason. The CR-V had anchors that were easier to reach, but they were too close to other equipment.

If someone were to mistake the other equipment for the LATCH system, it would put the child at risk of coming detached from the safety system in the vehicle.


Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

Since most vehicles are now equipped with auto brake features, the IIHS tests these to make sure they are up to their standards.

Many vehicles, including the CR-V and the Forester, only have these as optional features, but they help to make it easier for the vehicle to stop if the driver is not paying attention or is unable to push the brake in the event of an accident.

The CR-V and the Forester both stopped with optional equipment and completely avoided an accident in both of the tests they were subjected to.

Their headlights received an A score because they had only fair visibility during a gradual left turn. The vehicles both have a system which automatically switches to high beams if the vehicle is performing poorly with low beams.

The equipment is available as an option on the CR-V and the Forester.


Many consider the crashworthiness tests to be among the most important. Even if they are not the most important, they are the most involved tests and are made up of six different parts.

The Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester had tests performed that would determine how safe they were in different types of collisions.

The small overlap front tests were the only ones where there was a difference between the two vehicles. Both of them received a G score during the driver’s side. The Forester received an M for the passenger side while there was no data for the CR-V on the passenger side.

The vehicles scored a G on the rest of the tests including the moderate overlap front, the sides, the roof strength and the safety of the seats with the restraints and headrests.

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Top Safety Pick+


The Subaru Forester and the CR-V both received the Top Safety Pick+ award from IIHS which is the highest award a vehicle can receive. The vehicles performed significantly better than most of the other small-size SUVs that were tested by the IIHS.

The Subaru Forester received the ranking of the number one safest small-size SUV. The CR-V received the ranking of the third.

The rating was due mostly to the fact there was no data on the CR-V for the small overlap in the front on the passenger side of the CR-V.

While there is no way to guarantee a safer vehicle will protect you completely during an accident, it is much safer to drive a vehicle that has received a Top Safety Pick+ award.

The award shows the benefits of the safety of the vehicles in different situations and is accurate because of the tests the IIHS uses. Drivers may also save more money on insurance for vehicles that have received this award.

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