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

The Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Tuscon both received high safety scores from the IIHS, but the CX-3 is safer. The average cost of SUV auto insurance is 18% above other cars.

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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 28, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The Mazda CX-3 and the Hyundai Tucson are both safe vehicles according to the IIHS
  • One of the vehicles outperformed the other in one test and was able to take home a Top Safety Pick+ award
  • While there is not much difference in insurance between the two award types, insuring a car that has a safety award is often less expensive than insuring one without an award

For the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to test the vehicles in the most accurate way possible, they have come up with tests that were created to work exactly as an accident would.

They make sure the cars are in the same position as what they would be while they are driving without having to worry about actual people being injured.

By using these tests, they can see how the vehicles would respond in an accident within a controlled environment.

It is something the IIHS uses to make sure they are able to provide ratings that are as accurate as possible for both consumers and insurance institutions.

Compare car insurance quotes for the vehicles you’re considering. Their safety features could save you a lot of money! Use our free comparison tool above to get started.

The IIHS Rating System for Small SUVs

The two systems the IIHS uses to rate the vehicles depend on the letter grades a vehicle receives during crash tests and other tests people are able to perform. It is a way for them to have a controlled way of judging vehicles.

If they are able to determine a rating for the vehicle, it will be based on a system they use for all the other vehicles they have tested in the past.

The ratings are as follows:

  • G for good
  • A for acceptable
  • M for marginal
  • P for poor

Vehicles with P ratings in the collision prevention and overall crash tests are ineligible for awards from IIHS.


Hyundai Tucson and the Mazda CX-3 LATCH Tests

For the Hyundai Tucson and the Mazda CX-3, the IIHS tested the LATCH systems. Both the vehicles had the same A grade on the tests which means they are acceptable for people to use.

Since they are only testing the efficacy of the systems, the IIHS looks at how easy it is for people to use them.

In Tucson, it was too difficult for people to use them without mistaking them for other hardware. In the CX-3, they were too deep in the seat, and it was too difficult for people to maneuver the seats.

While both vehicles had the same rating, they received it for different issues with the LATCH system.

Hyundai Tucson and the Mazda CX-3 Anti-Collision Devices

Many vehicles have anti-collision devices that help them automatically stop before they get into an accident. The equipment makes the vehicle safer overall.

To test the equipment, the IIHS puts the vehicles in several situations that simulate a near-crash situation. If the vehicle is able to stop or reduce its speed, it will receive a higher score. The Mazda and the Hyundai both had scores of superior on the test. 

They were able to slow down to a full stop before they hit a vehicle going both 12 miles per hour and 20 miles per hour. Even though the Hyundai was able to stop, it was not able to do so with the advanced headlights that helped it to score an A on the headlight test.

Hyundai Tucson and the Mazda CX-3 Crash Test Ratings

Even though the entire score is important to determine how safe a vehicle is, many people look at just the crash test ratings.

They want to see how their vehicle will respond to different types of crashes, and IIHS makes sure they are prepared for crashes from side-impact, front, and even rollover accidents.

While there was no data for either the CX-3 or the Tucson on the passenger side of a front overlap accident, the rest of the ratings they received were good.

They received the ratings with standard equipment because the tests are done without any optional equipment or trims that could make optional safety equipment.

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Hyundai Tucson and the Mazda CX-3:  A Close Race

Even though Tucson and the CX-3 were very close to each other, there was a winner.

The CX-3 scored higher overall despite the Tucson having similar scores in the individual categories.

Since the Tucson required additional equipment that would cause the headlights to be less safe, it was unable to reach the same total rating as the CX-3.

The CX-3 was a Top Safety Pick+ winner, and the Tucson was just a Top Safety Pick winner. The CX-3 was a safer car in every aspect.

While the awards are different and require the vehicles to do different things, there is not much difference in owning a Top Safety Pick+ vehicle and a Top Safety Pick vehicle. 

The vehicles are less expensive to insure than ones without awards. They are also safer for driving overall. Drivers may pick their car based on the price, aesthetics or brand loyalty, but most drivers like to be sure their car is, at least, moderately safe while they are driving it.

Drivers can also save money when they are looking for insurance for their vehicles. For this reason, safety ratings are an important part of the car buying process.

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