Is Lexus’s safety rating for midsize luxury SUVs better than Cadillac’s?

When comparing midsize luxury SUVs and safety, Lexus is generally safer than Cadillac. Safety features can lower 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 4, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The IIHS/HDLI provides safety ratings that can be used to choose a safer vehicle
  • The safety ratings of a vehicle can directly cause auto insurance costs to increase or decrease
  • Based on IIHS/HDLI safety ratings, Lexus’s midsize luxury SUVs are generally safer than Cadillac’s

When it’s time to shop for a car, it’s important to know that a vehicle with good safety ratings can lower auto insurance costs.

People often choose midsize luxury SUVs because they are believed to be safer options. Unfortunately, companies commonly use tactics to convince the consumer that their vehicles are the safest option, which can often mislead the buyer.

Thankfully, consumers can rely on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). The IIHS/HDLI thoroughly evaluates vehicles and provides each of them with safety ratings based on their findings.

They use these ratings to decide which vehicles are worthy of the Top Safety Pick awards.

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IIHS/HLDI Safety Ratings

The IIHS/HDLI uses its vehicle research center to execute all of the tests necessary to appropriately rate each vehicle’s safety features. This study, in particular, is based on midsize luxury SUVs including the Lexus RX, NX, and Cadillac XT5.

All of these vehicles were rated based on the following tests:

  • crash avoidance and mitigation
  • child seat anchors
  • crashworthiness

Each vehicle’s ratings in the different categories will either be good, acceptable, marginal or poor.

Under the crash avoidance and mitigation category, the area of front crash prevention is the only exception to this rule as it will receive different levels of basic, advanced, and superior ratings.

Because all of these things are taken into consideration by insurance companies, it may benefit the driver to research how vehicle safety determines insurance premiums.


A vehicle’s crashworthiness is determined by how well it will protect its passengers if a crash or collision were to occur. In this category, the IIHS/HDLI tests each car’s front small overlap, front moderate overlap, sides, roof strength, head restraints, and seats.

The Lexus RX and NX both managed to receive “good” ratings in every single area of the crashworthiness category. The Cadillac XT5 followed suit and also earned “good” ratings across the board.

All three vehicles seem to be equally top of the line when it comes to crashworthiness.


Crash Avoidance & Mitigation

Many modern cars include safety features that help drivers avoid collisions. These features can be beneficial because the vehicle will be less likely to crash, which can benefit the cost of insurance coverage as well as the operator’s driving record.

The Lexus RX and Cadillac XT5 both earned the highest “superior” ratings possible for front crash prevention. The IIHS/HDLI further indicated that the Cadillac XT5 earned it’s “superior” rating with optional equipment.

The Lexus NX, however, received an “advanced” rating, just falling short of the other two vehicles in this area.

When it comes to headlights, the Lexus RX and NX both earned “acceptable” ratings. The IIHS indicated that the RX earned its rating with optional equipment and that the NX earned its rating with certain trims only.

The Cadillac XT5 fell a bit behind and earned a “marginal” rating with the indication that it was earned with optional equipment. These ratings show that the Lexus RX is the safest option when it comes to crash avoidance and mitigation.

Child Seat Anchors

Parents often buy new vehicles with the safety of their children in mind. Two or more rear seats with full Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, or LATCH, are required in most vehicles by federal regulations.

The IIHS/HDLI tests how easy it is to install car seats and child restraints with each vehicle’s hardware. These tests focus on how accessible the lower anchors are, clearance angle, force, and the appearance of any other hardware that may be confusing for the installer. 

The Lexus NX only earned a “marginal” rating, while the Cadillac XT5 managed to outdo the Lexus NX with an “acceptable” rating. The Lexus RX managed to outscore both vehicles and obtain an exceptional “good+” rating with an indication of extra LATCH positions.

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Top Safety Pick Awards

The IIHS/HDLI uses all of the above criteria to determine which vehicles have earned one of their Top Safety Pick awards. This award is how they show consumers which vehicles are the safest and highly recommended options.

The Cadillac XT5 earned a 2017 Top Safety Pick award but was outshined by the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ awards earned by both the Lexus RX and NX. These results clearly show the IIHS/HDLI’s choice for the safest midsize luxury SUVs.

Although the Cadillac XT5 is a very safe vehicle, the Lexus models simply performed better in the safety tests.

All three vehicles were neck and neck when it came to crashworthiness but began to show a bit of a divide in crash avoidance and mitigation. Lexus triumphantly took the victory in the child seat anchors category with it’s rare “good+” rating.

All of these vehicles have earned IIHS/HDLI’s seal of approval for their safety, but Lexus has proven that its midsize luxury vehicles are safer than Cadillac.

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