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

Nissan and Hyundai both earned top safety marks from the IIHS in 2017, but Nissan won out. Safety features can lower your auto insurance bill by up to 8%.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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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: Apr 22, 2020

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Things to remember...


Nissan has manufactured value-priced yet reliable cars since 1958 with the introduction of the Datsun. For over five decades, the top-selling brand has managed to attract a lot of attention from family-focused consumers who want high-quality cars without sacrificing affordability.

Nissan is an innovator in the industry. The automaker has managed to adapt to the ever-changing industry without overlooking the need for efficient, high-performance, stylish, and safe options. Compare coverage now with our free quote tool above today! 

While Nissan is known for producing private passenger vehicles, it transitioned into the full-size truck and SUV market in the early 2000s. It has been a successful transition for the automaker.

One of the more popular models to be released is the Nissan Rogue. In 2008, the 5-seater compact SUV hit the market boasting fuel efficiency. In 2014, the vehicle underwent a fresh new exterior redesign.

This is what attracted new buyers, but safety features were also improved. If you want a small SUV and you’d like to know if Nissan’s safety rating is better than competitors like Hyundai, here’s what you should know:

Understanding IIHS Safety Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a non-profit organization that was originally founded by insurance executives in the 1950s.

In 1995, the institute started to develop a rating system based on how vehicles performed in frontal crash tests. In recent years, the IIHS started to test child seat latching systems and headlight functioning.

Here’s a list of the tests performed today:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats
  • Front crash prevention
  • Headlights
  • Child seat anchors (LATCH)

When a vehicle is tested in the Crash Hall, the ratings are determined. The testers will look at the structure, the safety cage, injury measures, restraints, and dummy movements to give grades in each area tested.

When you’re comparing small SUVs from Nissan and Hyundai, it’s important to know which ratings are best.

Here’s a list of ratings from best to worst:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor
  • Front Crash Prevention and Avoidance – Superior, Advanced, or Basic

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Safety Ratings for the 2017 Nissan Rogue

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Superior(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Performance – Acceptable (only on certain trims)
  • Child Seat Anchor Ease of Use – Marginal

Between the years of 2008 and 2013. the Nissan Rogue earned the ‘Marginal’ frontal crash test and ‘Acceptable’ roof-strength scores.

After the redesign, it was clear that Nissan improved the Rogue’s exterior design and it’s structural design. Ever since the vehicle has earned ‘Good’ ratings in each crash test conducted.

From 2016 to 2017, another improvement was reported. The 2017 Rogue was outfitted with an optional Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection system and vehicles tested with the optional Platinum Package earned a ‘Superior’ 6 out of 6 ratings in crash avoidance.

All of these improvements earned the 2017 Nissan Rogue a Top Safety Pick+ award.

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Hyundai Tuscon

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Superior(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Performance – Acceptable (only certain trims)
  • Child Seat Anchor Ease of Use – Acceptable

The Hyundai Tuscon was first introduced in 2005 as the manufacturer’s first 5-seater crossover. Like the Nissan Rogue, the Tuscon struggled to earn even acceptable scores when it was first released.

In fact, the vehicle received ‘Poor’ ratings in front crash tests between 2005 and 2015. It wasn’t until recently that the design became safer.

The 2017 Hyundai Tuscon earned all ‘Good’ ratings in each crash test conducted. Vehicles equipped with the Ultimate Package also earned a ‘Superior’ rating in Front Crash Prevention because of the optional Automatic Emergency Braking system.

The Rogue and the Tuscon both earned ‘Acceptable’ headlight ratings but only the top trim level of the Tuscon managed to avoid earning a ‘Poor’ grade.

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2017 Top Safety Pick+

Vehicles must earn top-notch scores to be rated as Top Safety Picks. To earn the Top Safety Pick+ classification, a vehicle must earn all ‘Good’ ratings in crash tests and a ‘Superior’ or ‘Advanced’ score in Front Crash Prevention.

Plus picks also need to earn an ‘Acceptable’ for headlights. The Nissan Rogue is a Plus Pick because the basic trim level earned this acceptable score.

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Is Nissan safer than Hyundai for small SUVs?

If you look strictly at the Top Safety Pick information on 2017 models, Nissan makes the safer small SUV.

The Nissan Rogue is a Top Safety Pick+ and the Hyundai Tuscon was not able to earn the Plus designation because of headlight performance. It may be a minor difference, but the difference is evident.

If you’re going to buy a small SUV, focus on safety first. The safety ratings of a vehicle will have a direct effect on what you pay for insurance.

You should get quotes for coverage to compare the insurance expense between the two options. Use our free online rate comparison tool and you can easily price shop from home.

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