Is Mazda’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Audi’s?

Mazda's small SUVs received top safety awards from the IIHS, while the Audi Q3 fell short. Safety features can lower your 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 9, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Mazda’s small SUVs are the CX-3 and the CX-5
  • Audi’s small SUV is the Audi Q3
  • Mazda’s small SUVs both receive the highest safety rating from the IIHS
  • Both Mazda vehicles in the small SUV lineup qualify for huge insurance discounts
  • Audi’s small SUV didn’t earn any safety awards

Small SUVs appeal to so many drivers for many reasons. They’re more spacious than a sedan, and they have more space in the back when the seats are down.

They’re smaller than traditional SUVs, so they’re better on gas and easier to drive. It’s an appealing drive, and most people find it difficult to decide which small SUV is the best for their family and their needs.

With so many of them featuring more streamlined, sleek exterior features, the choice is difficult. The Audi Q3 and the Mazda CX-3 and Mazda CX-5 are three of the most appealing small SUVs.

One way people choose which small SUV they want to bring home is the safety features. If a vehicle is safer, it’s not only better for your family but also for your insurance rates. Vehicles with great safety ratings are less expensive to insure, which always makes them more appealing to consumers.

Safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are a good way to not only gauge the security of a vehicle but also understand how much it will cost to insure.

Vehicles with lower safety ratings will be deemed a higher risk by providers, which translates to more expensive premiums and higher deductibles for you.

IIHS Safety Ratings

The IIHS works diligently to bring awareness to all consumers regarding the safety features of each small SUV on the market. Mazda and Audi both have vehicles in the small SUV category, and many drivers find themselves comparing the two.

Which is safer? The IIHS has rated them and provided their ratings to the public to help you make an informed decision using a very specific rating method.

Each vehicle is divided into three main categories. The first is the crashworthiness of the vehicle, which is then broken down into five smaller categories. These five categories are the small overlap front, the moderate overlap front, the side strength, roof strength, and the head restraints and seats.

The crash avoidance and mitigation category are broken down into two categories, which are the headlights and the front crash prevention.

Child seat anchors include just one category, LATCH, which stands for “lower anchors and tethers for children”. This category evaluates how easy it is to install a car seat or booster seat in the vehicle, an important feature for parents who are shopping around for a new family car.

Each category is then tested and issued a grade from “G” to “P” with “G” being the best score. It means good. It’s followed by “A” for acceptable, “M” for marginal, and “P” for poor.

The crash avoidance and mitigation category have a subcategory called front crash prevention, and it’s not given a letter grade. It’s given a grade of superior, advanced, or basic.

Each of these has a high level and a lower level, and each vehicle is graded based on the overall performance with this scale.

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Mazda Safety Ratings in the Small SUV Category

The 2017 lineup from Mazda includes two small SUVs. The 2017 Mazda CX-3 is the one with the best rating. It’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award-winning small SUV, which is the highest possible honor for any vehicle to receive from the IIHS.

With all “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category, it’s a top-tier superior vehicle in the front crash prevention category. It’s also earned an “A” rating in the latch and headlights categories.

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus winner for 2017. It’s got all the same ratings as the CX-3 in every category except for the front crash prevention category.

In this category, the CX-5 earned a low-level superior rating. It’s still an impressive vehicle, and it’s one of the safest small SUVs on the road in terms of IIHS safety ratings.


Audi Safety Ratings in the Small SUV Category

The 2017 Audi Q3 did not meet enough standards to qualify for a Top Safety Pick rating, but it isn’t a car without safety features.

The difference is this vehicle was not tested for front crash prevention, which makes it ineligible to earn any IIHS safety awards.

It has a “G” rating across the board in terms of crashworthiness, but the headlights are a dismal “P” rated set. The latch has an “A” rating.

Determining Top Safety Picks

You’re seeing the term IIHS Top Safety Pick, and you might not be entirely certain what this means or how it’s determined. The IIHS provides all vehicles it rates with the chance to earn one of two awards each year.

The Top Safety Pick award is the first, and the Top Safety Pick Plus is the best award any vehicle can receive. It’s going to allow you to qualify for lower insurance rates if your vehicle has either of these ratings.

The key to being rated a Top Safety Pick is in the crashworthiness and front crash prevention categories. A vehicle must have all “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category, which consists of five subcategories.

Sometimes a vehicle has a grade for both the small overlap front driver and passenger side, but the passenger side rating doesn’t affect the overall score. The vehicle must also have no less than an advanced rating in terms of front crash prevention.

To earn the Top Safety Pick Plus award, vehicles must meet all the above requirements as well as a score of “A” or better in the headlights department. It might seem the headlights are easy to grade well, but many vehicle manufacturers fall short of providing great headlights.

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Safety Picks and Insurance

If you choose a vehicle like the Mazda small SUVs, you’re getting better insurance rates. Vehicles that are safer are less expensive to insure, which means you win paying your auto insurance premiums.

You can also ask for additional discounts if you’re retired, work from home, or work in a job that takes you away from your home often.

These jobs keep you off the road most of the time, which makes you less risky to insure.

Additional discounts are available if you bundle all your insurance policies and if you have more than one car on your auto insurance policy.

When shopping for a new car, you should also take into consideration both the gas mileage and the type of fuel the vehicle takes for savings purposes.

Choosing a new vehicle with a good warranty is helpful, and choosing a vehicle that’s less expensive to repair is also a great way to save.

Combine this with low insurance rates, and you’re on the road to driving a great car with plenty of savings. Don’t miss out on our free quote tool below! Just enter your zip code and start comparing rates now!

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