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

The Mazda CX-3 and Kia Sportage both received top safety marks from the IIHS, but the CX-3 won overall. Safety measures 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: Nov 4, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • All of Mazda’s small SUVs are Top Safety Pick Plus award-winners
  • The Kia SUV is a Top Safety Pick award-winner
  • All three Kia and Mazda vehicles are among the least expensive to insure

Small SUVs are sometimes referred to as crossovers depending on the model you buy, and they grow in popularity every year.

Both the Mazda and the Kia small SUVs offer more space than a traditional sedan, but they also offer the better gas mileage of a traditional sedan.

With SUV trunk space and sedan gas mileage, it’s difficult to deny one of these small SUVs might be a better purchase than something else, and Americans are falling hard for them.

It’s a little more refined, a little sleeker, and it offers the best of both worlds.

It’s also cheaper to insure a small SUV than a large one, and you get additional insurance discounts if you pick one that’s high on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) list of top safety picks for its model year.

It’s easy to see why so many drivers prefer a crossover or small SUV to anything else, and the safety features they offer only make them more appealing.

Review car insurance quotes for the models you’re considering to see how they compare. Use our free rate comparison tool above to begin.

How does the IIHS determine which small SUVs are safest?

The IIHS believes safety matters more than just about anything else in a vehicle for several reasons.

  • For one, you need to be kept safe in an accident. Serious injury and even death can occur in a car accident, but driving a safer vehicle can greatly reduce your risk of either.
  • Secondly, your insurance rates are based on the safety of your vehicle. The safer it is, the more money you save when you go compare rates with various insurance companies.

The IIHS takes several things into consideration when rating vehicle safety.

Crashworthiness is important, front crash prevention is important, headlights are important, and the latch system used for child seats is important. Each one tested during professional accidents, and then they are graded using a simple letter-based system.

  • “G” means good, and it’s the best rating a vehicle can get.
  • “A” means acceptable, and it’s not bad.
  • “M” means marginal, and it means there’s room for improvement.
  • “P” is poor, and it’s the lowest possible score any vehicle can receive in a crash test rating.

Any vehicle that receives 5 “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category, as well as an advanced or superior rating in the front crash prevention test, is a Top Safety Pick.

To get the Top Safety Pick Plus rating, the vehicle must also receive an “A” or “G” rating in the headlights category.


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Mazda’s Small SUV Safety Ratings Scores

The 2017 Mazda CX-3 received a Top Safety Pick+ rating for its outstanding performance in all safety tests.

This vehicle has a “G” rating in all the crashworthiness categories, and it has an “A” rating in both the headlights and the child LATCH areas of the testing. It also has a superior rating for front crash prevention.

The Mazda CX-5 also received a Top Safety Pick+ rating in 2017. It has nearly identical test scores and ratings alongside its sister SUV, the CX-3.

The only difference is that the CX-5 scored a slightly lower superior mark in the front crash prevention category. Since both Mazdas were awarded the highest safety level by the IIHS, they both come with great insurance discounts.

Kia’s Small SUV Safety Ratings Scores

The 2017 Kia Sportage is the only Kia on the list of small SUVs, and it’s also a Top Safety Pick. It just missed the mark to be a Top Safety Pick+ due to the “P” score in the headlights test.

It has an “A” in the latch system, a “G” across the board in the crashworthiness system, and it has the highest level of superior in the front crash prevention category, which is actually better than the Mazda CX-5.

Mazda Has a Slightly Better Rating

If it was not for the “P” rating the Kia Sportage received for subpar headlights, it would have joined both Mazda’s in the Top Safety Pick+ category and it would have been a three-way tie.

However, the poor headlight rating caused this vehicle to lose out on a plus rating, but that doesn’t mean you won’t receive an insurance discount or a great ride in this vehicle.

Mazda is the only small SUV on the list of all small SUVs in which every manufacturer model on the list gets the best possible rating. It’s an impressive feat, and it’s not one that’s easy for other manufacturers to beat in the small SUV category.

Small SUVs are fun to drive, and they’re also more affordable. Not only do you get great gas mileage in these, but all three vehicles on this list also qualify for insurance discounts if you remember to ask for them when comparing rates.

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These vehicles are very safe, which makes them less expensive to insure. You may also ask for additional discounts for being retired, for living close to work or working from home, and even for the kind of job you work.

It all adds up to make driving a small SUV even more affordable.

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