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

Mazda's small SUVs took home top safety awards in 2017, while the VW Tiguan earned none. 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 22, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • VW’s Tiguan does not score well in safety tests
  • The IIHS’ ratings can help you get lower insurance rates
  • Both Mazda small SUVs receive the highest possible safety award from the IIHS

Finding a small SUV that works well for your family isn’t difficult, but choosing from all the models and options available can be slightly overwhelming.

Many consumers start with a list of what they’re looking for, what they need, and what features are most important. It’s not uncommon for the safety and the price of the small SUV they’re buying to top their list of wants and needs.

Not only does driving a safe small SUV mean your family is safer, it also means you get some serious insurance discounts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) buy each of the new small SUVs on the market every year and crashes them for sport. 

Each crash is then rated, graded, and safety awards are issued to help consumers learn which vehicles keep them safest. It also helps insurance agencies know which vehicles are more expensive to insure based on their low scores in crash rating categories.

If you’re looking for a safe vehicle that comes with a little bit of insurance savings, you want a small SUV with a good safety rating. 

Another great way to save on car insurance is to compare quotes and choose the provider that offers you the coverage you need at the best rate. Enter your zip code above to begin comparing.

How does the IIHS rate each small SUV for safety?

If you understand how the IIHS rates vehicles, it’s easier to choose a vehicle you really want. The vehicles are crashed, and they’re graded in three categories:

  • The first is the crashworthiness, which has five subcategories.
  • Crash avoidance and mitigation are used to determine the safety features in the front crash prevention category as well as the headlights.
  • The child seat anchors are the latches in the back of the vehicle, and they are rated for child safety.

Each category is given a letter grade:

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

The IIHS uses these grades to rate each vehicle, but sometimes a specific grade might not mean much to a consumer.

They’re often used as guidelines to help consumers figure out what’s most important to them. For example, if you haven’t any kids, you might not be too worried about a poor rating on the child latches you won’t use.

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What is a Top Safety Pick?

The IIHS awards vehicles two different awards. The first is the Top Safety Pick award. Vehicles earn this award if they meet the “G” rating standard in all five crashworthiness categories.

They also need an advanced or superior rating in the front crash prevention category. The Top Safety Pick Plus award is the highest and most prestigious, and it includes the same standards in addition to an “A” or “G” rating in the headlights category.

Once a vehicle is awarded one of these Top Safety Picks, it qualifies owners for an insurance discount. When you drive a vehicle that performs this well in crash tests, it’s just cheaper to fix and insure.

If your own insurance agency doesn’t seem to want to work with you regarding better discounts, shop around. Sometimes you find better rates elsewhere.

Sometimes your own insurance agency is willing to work with you once they find out you’re shopping around for a new policy elsewhere. That’s the benefit of being an excellent customer who companies are afraid to lose.


Does the safety rating affect my insurance that much?

Everything from your age to your credit score affects the premiums you pay to your car insurance company every year, and this includes the safety rating of your small SUV.

Insurance companies can charge significantly less to insure a vehicle that performs well in safety and prevention tests, and you are the person who gets to see the benefit of those great test scores.

Your insurance company won’t automatically give you these safety ratings, but they will provide them if you ask for them. Depending on the vehicle you drive, you could qualify for discounts at one company you don’t qualify for at another.

Comparing rates is such an important part of the process.

Mazda Safety Ratings vs. Volkswagen Safety Ratings

Mazda included two small SUVs in this category for 2017, and both of them are IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award winners. This award is a high honor that makes both eligible for great insurance discounts.

The first is the 2017 Mazda CX-3, which has “G” ratings in every crashworthiness category, “A” ratings for headlights and the LATCH, and a superior rating in the front crash prevention category.

The front crash prevention category has three different ratings, including superior, advanced, and basic. The CX-3 received the highest level rating, a superior.  This category is also where the CX-3 and the 2017 Mazda CX-5 differ.

Both Mazda’s are Top Safety Pick Plush winners with the same scores across the board in terms of all their safety features. The only difference is the superior rating in the front crash prevention category.

The VW Tiguan is the only VW in the small SUV category, and it doesn’t rate well in terms of being awarded a Top Safety Pick rating. It didn’t get an award because it wasn’t rated in some categories and it didn’t perform well in others.

The Tiguan didn’t get a great rating where the small overlap in the front is concerned. It was issued an “M” for marginal. The front crash prevention test was unavailable for this SUV, and only certain trims were given an “A” rating for the headlights.

The LATCH system did receive an “A” rating, but there’s just not enough to give this vehicle any awards for being a great safety pick in 2017.

The Mazda is the clear winner, but the VW is still a good car to drive. Which one works best for your family depends on many variables including:

  • whether you have kids
  • if you like to travel
  • what you prefer in terms of aesthetics

You’ll get a great discount for driving a Mazda you won’t get driving a VW, but you can get other discounts from your insurance company if you ask for specifics. Compare car insurance quotes to make sure you’re paying the best rate for the coverage you need.



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