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

The IIHS gave the Subaru Forester a higher safety rating than the Audi Q3 in recent tests. Auto insurance averages around $125/mo. for normal SUV models.

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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: Nov 3, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Subaru is a reliable brand that is dedicated to quality and innovation
  • The Subaru Forester, along with 3 other models, are so popular that the automaker’s market share has increased by 11.7percent
  • The Subaru Forester has consistently received high safety ratings since 1999 when the first generation small SUV debuted
  • In 2017, the Forester earned such high IIHS safety ratings that it was classified as a Top Safety Pick+
  • If you compare the Forester to the Audi Q3, the Subaru has consistently earned better marks making it safer

In the 1990s, small crossover wagons were all the craze. Now, more and more consumers are interested in owning sporty and efficient small SUVs.

Not only are these models easier to handle and low on fuel consumption, but they are also comfortable with a sporty yet stylish feel.

Only the best car manufacturers can adapt to trends in the market. Adaptability means that you see what’s selling and you design or redesign your vehicles to answer sudden shifts in demand.

Subaru has done just this over the years and this is why the automaker that has been in business since 1954.

Make sure to use our free quote tool above to compare rates no matter which vehicle you choose.

What You Should Know About Subaru

As an innovator in the automotive marketplace, Subaru has shown that auto brands can adapt to the wants and needs of car buyers without compromising quality and safety.

This is why the car maker has only ever had to produce 4 different SUV models and 8 different sedans over almost 8 decades. One of the most popular small SUVs available is the Subaru Forester.

The Forester was initially classified as a small crossover wagon with the capacity to seat up to 5 passengers. Since it was 1998, in the height of the demand for sporty-type of wagons, it’s no surprise that the Forester, equipped with all-wheel-drive, was given the ‘wagon’ title.

That name has since changed and the Forester is a feature-rich compact crossover SUV. The video featured above shows a crash test for the Forester 

If you’re interested in owning a small technology-rich and feature-rich SUV like the Forester, you have to look past bells and whistles to assess whether or not this sporty yet rugged car is going to be a safe option. In every segment of the market, there are safe cars and not-so-safe ones.

If you’re comparing the Subaru and the Audi, you should take a look at the safety ratings of similar models in the class like the Forester and the Q3.

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How to Compare Safety Ratings

You can’t look at a car and speculate whether it’s safer than another.

A car that resembles a tank could look safer than one that resembles a VW bug, but in the end, each of the cars has to be tested to see how certain core areas of the structure respond in an accident.

This is why there are independent agencies like IIHS that do crash tests and record the findings.

What is the IIHS?

The IIHS stands for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It is a private and non-profit group that is funded by domestic car insurance companies so that it can conduct tests.

While there is a publicly-funded group called the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the IIHS conducts different types of tests.

The tests that are conducted by IIHS are designed to show which cars have better crashworthiness ratings and which are well-equipped with safety seats, auto brake systems, and high-grade headlights.

The tests that insurance companies pay to perform on the volume-selling vehicles that hit the market include:

  • Small overlap front (driver-side)
  • Small overlap front (passenger-side)
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side strength
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints
  • Front crash prevention and mitigation
  • Headlight glare and visibility
  • Child seat latching system ease of use

What ratings should I look for?

There are ratings given to every car that has been tested in the IIHS Vehicle Research Center. In 1995, the system was developed to include 4 different scores for each of the crash tests.

Even though more crash tests have been released since 2011, the scoring system still remains the same except for ratings on accident prevention systems.

Here’s a list of the scores used:

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

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Subaru Forester

  • Small overlap front crash (driver-side)– Good
  • Small overlap front crash (passenger-side)– Marginal
  • Moderate overlap front crash– Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head Restraints – Good
  • Frontal Crash Mitigation and Prevention – Superior 6 out of 6 points(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Visibility and Glare – Acceptable(with optional equipment)
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Acceptable

When the Subaru Forester debuted as a crossover wagon, it was tested by IIHS. In the first test of the model in 1999, the organization only measured damage to the Moderate overlap front and the test was scored ‘Good’.

Ever since that time, each generation of the Forester has earned a ‘Good’ score and the 2017 model is no different. The 2017 Subaru Forester earned ‘Good’ scores on small overlap front, moderate, side, roof, and head restraint tests.

On the passenger-side front crash test, which isn’t used in the award criteria, the vehicle earned a ‘Marginal’ score. Subaru makes up for it by earning 6 out of 6 in the Front Crash Prevention because of the high-tech EyeSight system.


Safety Ratings for the 2017 Audi Q3

  • Small overlap front crash (driver-side)– Good
  • Small overlap front crash (passenger-side)– N/A
  • Moderate overlap front crash– Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head Restraints – Good
  • Front Crash Mitigation and Prevention – N/A
  • Headlight Visibility and Glare – Poor
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Acceptable

The Audi Q3, which is also a smaller 5-seater crossover, has only been around since 2015. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for experimenting with designs and improving safety. Fortunately enough, the Audi Q3 has earned ‘Good’ ratings from the start.

The 2017 Audi Q3 was tested and the vehicle earned ‘Good’ ratings in how the safety cage performed and also in injury measures, much like the Forester.

It’s difficult to compare some aspects of the safety ratings because there was no passenger-side test conducted or a Front Crash Prevention Test.

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Does Subaru make a safer small SUV than Audi?

If you look at Subaru’s long-standing reputation of producing safer crossovers, it’s easy to understand why the Forester has a better rating than the Q3.

Not only is the Subaru Forester a Top Safety Pick+, it’s also one of the few models that have maintained all positive primary crash test ratings since the car was introduced.

If you’re trying to find the best deal on any small SUV, consider all of the expenses first. Insurance is a huge expense that is affected by safety ratings that are assigned by IIHS. Get an instant online quote for free today to compare premiums for similar makes and models.

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