Midsize luxury SUVs safety ratings: Mercedes-Benz v. BMW

Which is safer? BMW X1 or Nissan Rogue. Rogue is a top 5, while the X1 is a top IIHS safety pick. Safety features can impact auto insurance rates 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 Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Two Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the luxury midsize SUV class received the top honor of Top Safety Pick+ for 2017
  • Automobile buyers should avoid making the assumption that all luxury vehicles have similar safety capabilities
  • Nineteen luxury midsize SUVs were rated in 2017 by the IIHS, and the safety ratings are across the board

When you buy a high-end, luxury SUV from an automaker like Mercedes-Benz or BMW, you expect the latest innovations to be loaded into your vehicle and for the vehicle to be well-designed in every aspect.

The thought of poor safety ratings may not cross your mind when you buy this type of vehicle, but the reality is that many vehicles in this class have mediocre or even poor marks in various safety areas.

In 2017, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reviewed 19 SUVs in this class for their safety capabilities and features, and you may be surprised to learn that some of the premier luxury brands performed poorly in safety tests.

Staying safe on the road is a top priority, and safety test results from the IIHS are revealing. Safety ratings and accident statistics are also reviewed by car insurance providers when you request a new quote for coverage.

Analyzing safety test results from the IIHS could help you to save money on insurance and make a safe buying decision. Compare car insurance quotes to see how these vehicles compare and how different companies compare. Enter your zip code to get started comparing.

Safety Test Results for the BMW and Mercedes-Benz Midsize Luxury SUV Models


Of the 19 midsize luxury SUVs reviewed by the IIHS for safety tests in 2017, there were two Mercedes-Benz models and two BMW models.

These include the Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLC as well as the BMW X3 and X5. The IIHS ran safety tests and reviews in three main categories, and two of these categories were broken down into small sub-categories. Many of the safety categories were rated as:

  • Good
  • Average
  • Marginal
  • Poor

The Front Crash Prevention area was rated differently, and the possibilities range from “basic” up to “superior.”


Crashworthiness is a critical aspect of SUV safety, and all five sub-categories in this area examine how well a vehicle can protect its occupants in various ways when in a collision.

“Good” marks were given to both Mercedes-Benz models in this category, and this is for the sub-categories that include Roof Strength, Front Small Overlap, Front Moderate Overlap, Head Restraints and Seats, and Side.

The X3 from BMW was not rated for Front Small Overlap, but it received “good” grades for the other four sub-categories. The X5 was only rated in the areas of Front Moderate Overlap and Side, and it had a “good” grade in these areas.


Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

Front Crash Prevention and Headlights are the two sub-categories of Crash Avoidance and Mitigation. These two sub-categories examine an SUV’s ability to prevent accidents from happening or to otherwise reduce how significant they are.

All four models reviewed for Mercedes-Benz and BMW had a “superior” Front Crash Prevention grade. The GLC had a “good” Headlights mark while the GLE-Class and the BMW X5 has an “average” mark. The X3 received a “marginal” grade in the Headlights sub-category.

Latch for the Child Seat Anchors

If you plan to use a child safety seat in your new SUV, the LATCH rating is important to pay attention to. This rating tells you how easy the process is of connecting your car seat to the latches or anchors in the vehicle.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class had a “good” grade for the LATCH category, and an “average” grade was given to the GLC model. Both of the BMW models only received a “marginal” grade in this important area.

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


When you take a closer look at the IIHS safety ratings, you will notice that some vehicles have received the acknowledgment of Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+. The Top Safety Pick+ award requires an “average” Headlights grade or better.

Both awards also require a “good” grade for all Crashworthiness sections and an “advanced” rating or better for the Front Crash Prevention safety category.

Both Mercedes-Benz SUV models reviewed received the highest award, which is the Top Safety Pick+ award.

Notably, only six of the 19 SUV models analyzed by the IIHS were not awarded one of these titles, and the two BMW models were in this group of vehicles that ranked rather low in safety ratings.

What the Safety Ratings Tell You about the BMW and Mercedes-Benz SUV Models

Safety is an important concern for any vehicle buyer, and it would be unwise to assume that a model has great safety ratings simply because it is a luxury brand.

As you can see, the two Mercedes-Benz models in this SUV vehicle class had substantially better safety test results than the two BMW models.

In fact, the Mercedes-Benz GLC was the top-rated vehicle of the 19 SUVs that were reviewed by the IIHS.

While safety ratings by the IIHS are important indicators for your overall well-being on the road, safety statistics and features are also often reviewed by car insurance companies when you request an insurance quote.

If you are debating between the BMW and Mercedes-Benz SUVs, you should spend a few minutes requesting online insurance quotes to determine which model qualifies for the most affordable auto insurance rates.

Compare quotes for free right here to find the coverage that’s right for your needs. Enter your zip code below to get started.

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