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

Mazda and Subaru both received top honors for their small SUVs from the IIHS, but the Subaru Forester is safer. Safety measures may reduce your auto insurance bill by up to 8%.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

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...

Full Bio →

Written by

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...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 26, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Things to remember...

  • The Mazda CX-3 and the Subaru Forester were recipients of the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award
  • The vehicles outperformed the majority of small size SUVs because of their crash test ratings
  • Choosing a Top Safety Pick+ like the Forester or CX-3 can help reduce your insurance costs

To get the most accurate results, The Insurance Institute for High Safety (IIHS) developed tests that were made to mimic accidents that could occur in real life.

It is important for the IIHS to maintain the standards of each of these tests because it helps them determine which vehicles are the safest.

Any deviation from the standards they have with the tests will mean the ratings are not as accurate as what they should be with the vehicles that were tested.

The IIHS does tests based on the crashworthiness of the vehicles. They also test whether the vehicles have equipment that will help them avoid a collision and headlights that are sufficient for different situations.

Since the LATCH system is important for child safety, the IIHS makes sure the LATCH system works in a way that is easy for people to use no matter what type of seat they are using in the vehicle.

Vehicles can receive the following scores:

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

Compare car insurance quotes to see if a safer vehicle will help you find lower premiums. Enter your zip code above to get started.

Mazda and Subaru Performance

The Mazda CX-3 and the Subaru Forester performed exceptionally on both the tests.

  • Since they both received the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ awards, it is clear they are among the best choices for a small size SUV that is safe.

The scores for the Forester and the CX-3 were similar but varied with the small passenger-side front overlap test.


During the collision tests, vehicles are put through several different collisions that could happen in real life. They are made to test different parts of the vehicles. The tests involve the small overlap front tests and the moderate overlap tests.

The IIHS also looks at the sides of the vehicle and the roof strength. During these crashworthiness tests, the IIHS scores the vehicles based on their seats, restraints, and headrests.

The Subaru Forester and the Mazda CX-3 received a G in every area except for the small overlap front passenger side of the vehicles.

The Forester received a score of M. The CX-3 had no data for this test which brought the overall score down. If there had been data on it, it could have scored higher than the Forester or any of the other vehicles that were tested.


Avoidance and Mitigation

To test the mitigation of the vehicles, the IIHS looks at the headlights. They determine which direction the headlights cast extra light onto and how they work with different situations.

The CX-3 and the Forester both had A scores with optional equipment. Owners could choose equipment that would help the vehicles’ headlights perform better in certain situations.

To avoid crashes, vehicles are equipped with a warning system and auto brake. The warning system has to be loud enough and send out enough of an alert to help a driver realize they are about to crash. The auto brake needs to reduce the speed.

The warning system was superior, and the crash avoidance for the CX-3 and Forester was also superior. The auto brake helped both vehicles completely avoid a crash at both 12 miles per hour and 25 miles per hour.

Child Safety

The child safety system in a vehicle is important to many people. It is also important to the government which means it is regulated. Because of this, the LATCH system performs the same across the board for all vehicles that are equipped with it.

The IIHS still likes to determine whether the system is going to work properly. To do this, they look at where the anchors are, whether they are close to other equipment and how easy they are to latch.

The CX-3 had some equipment that was close to the LATCH system. The Forester also had equipment that was close to it.

These could be mistaken for the LATCH system and could cause a child to be at risk during an accident. For this reason, the vehicles received an acceptable score instead of good for the LATCH system.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Top Safety Pick+

The Subaru Forester was the winner between the two vehicles. It is the number one safest small SUV according to IIHS. The Mazda CX-3 ranked as the fourth safest.

If there had been data for the passenger-side small overlap front on the Mazda CX-3, it could have ranked higher or even outperformed the Forester.

Aside from the ratings for the passenger side small overlap front during a collision, the vehicles were identical in their performance. They both received their scores based on optional equipment.

Even though their rankings were slightly different, the vehicles both received the Top Safety Pick+ award. To get this award, they cannot score under marginal in any of the crashworthiness tests. They can also not score below acceptable on any other test.

The Top Safety Pick+ award is the highest award the IIHS gives to vehicles.

Even though the vehicles were slightly different, they are still extremely safe. They are among the safest of all small SUVs. Since they have the Top Safety Pick+, they can even help drivers save money when they are taking out an insurance policy.

While the safety of your vehicle may be one of your top concerns while shopping around, you will also need to consider other things to get the best vehicle for your situation. Compare car insurance quotes right here to find the best rate no matter which vehicle you drive!

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption