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

The IIHS gave Mazda's small SUVs top safety marks in 2017, while Chevy scored low in comparison. Safety upgrades can lower your auto insurance bill 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: Oct 27, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Both of Mazda’s small SUVs receive the top rating for safety features
  • Chevy’s small SUV doesn’t receive any safety awards
  • There are no insurance savings available for the small Chevy SUV

Mazda and Chevy both produce small SUVs that consumers enjoy driving.

Comparably priced, it typically comes down the following:

  • what you prefer
  • which brand is your favorite
  • what features you can get for less money

However, it might occur to some consumers to check with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to compare safety ratings for these small SUVs.

Not only does a good rating with the IIHS mean you’re getting a vehicle that keeps you and your family safer, it means you’re paying less money to own in.

How is this possible? It’s possible because driving a vehicle with a high safety rating issued by the IIHS means paying less for your insurance deductible. Vehicles with great safety ratings are less expensive to insure, which means you save on your premium.

These vehicles tend to keep passengers safer causing fewer injuries in an accident, and they also tend to incur less damage, which makes them less expensive to fix. Talk to your insurance agent about your small SUV safety rating for a discounted policy.

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IIHS Safety Ratings Defined

The IIHS decides how to rate all vehicles based on their performance in various crash tests. Each one is taken on the road and involved in moderated accidents that cause damage to the vehicle in various areas.

The damage from the accident as well as the performance of the vehicle during the accident is then rated to provide the IIHS with a grade.

The IIHS uses a letter grading system for ratings.

  • The letter “G” is the best letter a vehicle can receive when graded by the IIHS. It means good.
  • The letter “A” is the next best grade. It means acceptable, and it’s equivalent to receiving a “B” on your report card.
  • The letter “M” is not a good one to get because it means marginal.
  • The letter “P” is the lowest possible grade a vehicle can receive in crash tests, and it means poor.

Each vehicle is graded on its crashworthiness, it’s crash avoidance and mitigation performance, and the child safety LATCH.

Crashworthiness is broken down into five subcategories, and the crash avoidance and mitigation is defined by two subcategories. The latch is the only thing that’s graded in the child safety category.


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How are award winners chosen?

The Mazda small SUV lineup is far superior to Chevy’s in the 2017 model year as evidenced by the fact both Mazda received Top Safety Pick+ awards this year. This is determined using numerous factors.

To earn a Top Safety Pick rating, small SUVs must earn a “G” rating in at least 5 crashworthiness tests and they must have an advanced or superior rating in the front crash prevention test.

To get the Top Safety Pick+ award, the vehicle must meet the same standards in addition to an “A” or “G” rating on the headlight system.

Both of these allow drivers to ask for discounts for their insurance premium with their insurance agency, and they help provide you peace of mind when driving your family around in your small SUV.

Chevy Small SUV Safety Ratings

Chevy has one small SUV in the mix for 2017. It’s the 2017 Chevy Trax. It’s not a safety award-winning vehicle as issued by the IIHS. 

This lack of award means it’s not going to give you any safety discounts when it comes to finding a good insurance rate, but it’s priced well below the cost of both Mazda’s to help balance out the overall cost.

The Chevy Trax received a “G” rating in all but one category in the crashworthiness. While the small front overlap on the driver side of the vehicle has a “G” rating, the passenger side only has an “A” rating.

The headlights were not graded, but the latch system did receive an “A” rating. The front crash prevention is what prevented the Trax from being a top safety pick winner. It’s at the bottom level of basic, which means it doesn’t perform nearly as well as other small SUVs.

Mazda Small SUV Safety Ratings

Mazda has two vehicles in the lineup of small SUVs for 2017. The 2017 Mazda CX-3 is a Top Safety Pick+, which is the highest possible rating a vehicle can receive when it’s tested.

It received a “G” rating in all the crashworthiness categories, an “A” rating in both the latch and the headlights categories, and it has the highest level of superior in the front crash prevention category. It ranks high because it performs well above the standard in every category.

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is the other small SUV Mazda makes, and it performs just as well as the CX-3. It has the same ratings across the entire board of tests, but the difference lies in the front crash prevention.

While it also has a superior rating, it’s a lower score in the superior category. It’s one point from being the highest level of superior, but it’s also a 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award-winning small SUV.

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What is important to you?

One thing you should realize when evaluating the safety features of these SUVs is what’s important to you may not be what’s important to the IIHS. For instance, if you haven’t any kids, you needn’t worry about the LATCH.

If you have vision issues that prevent you from driving at night, you might not care about the headlights.

The overall safety rating is designed to inform you about the safety features small SUVs such as the Chevy and the Mazda boast, but certainly not make your pick for you.

Choose the vehicle you want based on the features you find most important. If choosing a safety award-winning vehicle isn’t your priority, don’t choose one.

You can save on car insurance by carrying only what’s required in your state if you own your vehicle outright or by asking for a policy that monitors your mileage to qualify you for lower rates. You have options outside the safety features your small SUV boasts.

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