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

Mazda and Nissan both received top safety honors for their small SUVs in 2017. The average cost of SUV auto insurance is 18% higher than normal vehicles.

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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...

  • Small SUVs are the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to the size of Sports Utility Vehicles
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides assurance about the qualify of safety features in vehicles they test
  • Mazda CX-3 is a small SUV produced by this Japanese giant, and it features many state-of-the-art capabilities
  • Nissan Rogue debuted in 2008, and has been a very important part of this brand’s line-up

Vehicle safety is not something that manufacturers can be flexible with. If the product that families purchase does not have top-notch safety features that will prevent and mitigate an accident, the liability that exists is almost limitless.

Thus, many car brands will dedicate millions of dollars to research and development that will help them create new ways of saving lives.

As one of the most popular car types for middle-class households, Sports Utility Vehicles have built quite a reputation for themselves. This is why the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety dedicates its attention to these automobiles.

Compare car insurance quotes to see if a safer vehicle will help you get cheaper premiums. It should! Enter your zip code into our free tool above to begin.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Institute, also known as the IIHS, is operated as a non-profit organization that originally received funding from large insurance providers. The current leadership of the company is guided by Adrian Lund who is the president and has been with the IIHS for 36 years.

Testing provided by this Virginia-based center covers the following criteria:

  • Crashworthiness – how well does a car do when involved in a moderate-to-high speed collision?
  • Crash prevention – can a vehicle foresee and prevent an accident from occurring?
  • Child anchors – are there an appropriate LATCH system that the child seat can connect with?

The grading scale is somewhat uniform for the crashworthiness and child seat anchors where vehicles can be rated poor, marginal, acceptable, or good.

Crash prevention is slightly different as there are six points in total, and the car can be ranked as having basic, advanced, or superior crash avoidance capabilities.

Moreover, each category has sub-divisions where different tests will be conducted.

  • The crashworthiness contains all of the following: small overlap driver and passenger collision, moderate overlap collision, roof strength-to-weight ratio, side-impact collision, and head restraints’ effectiveness.
  • The crash prevention is broken down into a forward collision warning analysis, a 12-mph test, and a 25-mph test. Headlights are a significant piece of the review and they are looked at as a part of the crash prevention procedure.

An important notation is a fact that the passenger small overlap test has been added less than a month ago, which means that most models will have a blank score for this area.


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Mazda CX-3 Versus Nissan Rogue

Both models utilized for the comparison come from Japanese manufacturers. CX-3 and Rogue are further equally matched as far as size goes, as they are both small, four-door SUVs.


A look into the first part of the test helps both vehicles start off on a high note. All five categories of crashworthiness mentioned previously were rated “good” for both Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Rogue.

This test basically showcases how each car can maintain a safe survival environment by minimizing the intrusion to the cabins.

The risk of injury to the lower extremities was low, and the driver’s head was well protected in both cases. The airbag deployment assured that the driver’s initial contact after the accident will be with a soft pillow instead of the instrument panel or glass.

Mazda won the roof’s ratio by a small margin as its score was 0.53 greater than the score of Nissan. Regardless, both vehicles placed above the four-point mark which means they were given a good rating for their roofs’ strength-to-weight ratio.

Finally, after the first category is thoroughly looked at, there is no vehicle that takes the lead. Every area was tied between the two models, so the winner will have to come from the upcoming categories.

Crash Prevention and Mitigation

Unfortunately, the tied record goes on through the category of crash prevention. Both models won all six points and ranked as superior vehicles, crash-prevention-wise.

The irony of the individual challenges is the fact that the scores for the models were exactly the same. In the 12-mph test, a collision was completely avoided by CX-3 and Rogue.

In the 25-mph test, however, the speed reduction achieved was 23 miles per hour, for both models! Thus, the score remains the same as the vehicles’ safety seems to be a mirrored image of one another.

Headlights were both acceptable, although Nissan had some issues with creating glare. Mazda, on the other hand, never exceeded the glare limits but lost its points on a gradual left curve visibility.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

Finally, there is a single winner of the category. Nissan scored a marginal grade for its latches, and this fell behind the acceptable rating of Mazda. Thus, CX-3 took the lead in the very last portion of the test.

The reason why Nissan Rogue received such a low rating was the difficulty maneuvering around the anchors and they’re too deep of a placement.

Mazda also struggled with its lower anchors being too deep in the seat, but this was the only problem. Thus, Mazda won this category by a very decent margin.

2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+

To qualify for the Top Safety Pick Plus, which is the highest honor that the Institute offers, a vehicle must have good ratings for crashworthiness, advanced or superior ratings for crash prevention, and acceptable or good ratings for headlights.

Looking through the grades of these two vehicles, one can conclude that they both received this prominent award.

Before making a decision about either of the cars, however, customers should take into account insurance costs that will be applicable.

Generally, these costs will depend on one’s age, credit-worthiness, driving history, location, number of people on the policy, and more.

To facilitate an easy process of selecting an appropriate insurance company, one should use the online websites that have comparisons of all the different corporations that offer insurance quotes! Enter your zip code into our free comparison tool below!

It is not objectively accurate to say that either model “won” this comparison. Yes, Mazda showed a better performance in the child LATCH area, but every other portion was exactly the same.

Therefore, the final score is a tie, and if a winner must be selected at all costs, Mazda “won” and Nissan “lost.”

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