GMC vs Volkswagen Midsize SUV Safety Rating Comparison: Who Comes Out On Top?

GMC midsize SUV safety ratings for the Acadia are higher than the ratings for Volkswagen's Atlas. Due to GMC midsize SUVs scoring higher than Nissan midsize SUVs they will generally have lower insurance rates. GMC's midsize SUV safety ratings for the Acadia earned the Top Safety Pick award.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • General Motors Truck Company, better known as GMC, has been around for 106 years
  • Volkswagen was formed in 1937 in Europe, Germany
  • Popular automobiles that have been gaining momentum in the 21st century are Sports Utility Vehicles or SUV
  • GMC and Volkswagen must obey the rules in midsize SUVs’ safety requirements, something that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety goes to long lengths to test

The demand for vehicles around the United States is a category of the market that tends to be consistent. This demand is due to heavy presence of roads almost everywhere in the country which causes other transportation methods to come second to vehicles.

As people with professional careers and children begin settling down, one of the first purchases involves replacing the economy, two-door car with a large truck, minivan, or an SUV.

Those that decide to go with the last option might be among the thousands of drivers who neglect safety issues that arise with SUVs because they are technically smaller than trucks or minivans while still carrying enough weight (over 4,000 pounds) to cause hazards.

Compare car insurance quotes to find the best rate for the coverage you need no matter which type of vehicle you decide to go with. Enter your zip code above to get started.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety


Formed in 1959, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety creates tests that every vehicle has to pass in order to avoid a recall. These include collision-based and observatory evaluations that lead to specific scores in the following categories:

As the means to qualify performance, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) assigned a four-grade system for crashworthiness and child anchors which has good, acceptable, marginal, and poor as potential ratings.

Crash prevention abilities are assessed in a similar manner only the grades are basic, advanced, or superior.


Both manufacturers kicked-off the comparison in an impressive way as all five categories of crashworthiness were rated “good” for each model.

The small and moderate front overlap, side impact, roof weight-to-strength ratio, and head restraints capabilities showed that the driver is safe in case of an accident.

During the side test, Acadia and Atlas were hit with a midsize-SUV-height testing vehicle in order to evaluate their airbag efficiency. Upon impact, the airbags got deployed and absorbed dummy’s head impact that prevented contact with the outside structures or sharp glass.

Also, the roof’s ratios for both brands were well-above four, and the last time either one of the brands had issues with this sub-category was in 2010.

Since the scores for crashworthiness were so prominent for both models, the American and the German creators remain tied as the test continues to crash prevention.

Crash Prevention and Mitigation

Surviving a crash is important but only works as a heal for the consequence, while not necessarily fixing or preventing the root problem. This is something that a good danger-sensor-based system with an auto brake does.

To evaluate how well Acadia and Atlas compare to the rest of the market, the Institute exposed them to 12-mph and 25-mph tests.

Impressively, a “superior” showing of capabilities followed as Volkswagen stormed through and received five out of six points while GMC had a perfect score.

The single-point difference came from Atlas’ inability to completely avoid a collision during the 25-mph test where the final speed was brought down by 17 miles per hour. Nonetheless, this is still a reduction that can save many lives.

To qualify for these results, both vehicles had taken advantage of the optional equipment that the IIHS allows. That way, only the best version of a car will be a subject to one of the aforementioned tests.

As far as the overall status, GMC has taken a slight lead since it had an extra point on Volkswagen.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

As the final step in the procedure, the Institute conducts a test that required no contact whatsoever. They visually grade how well the latches are positions since, after all, this is a family car.

GMC obtained another slight victory with an “acceptable” score that trumped the “marginal” display of Volkswagen.

Common factors that reduced both models’ scores were anchors that are too deep in the seat and easily confused with other hardware. Also, GMC possessed two latch positions whereas Volkswagen had three. Regardless, it seems like the Acadia’s trend continues with another win.

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


To qualify for a Top Safety Pick, one of the most notable distinguishments in the industry, a vehicle would need to pass all the crashworthiness categories with a good score and get an advanced or superior crash prevention rating.

For Volkswagen and GMC, both models reflecting each company’s craftsmanship were declared Top Safety Picks. The lack of acceptable or good headlights, however, rules out both cars for the Top Safety Pick Plus position.

The comparison ended with GMC standing victorious due to a few shortcomings of Volkswagen that must be addressed.

These shortcomings include a non-perfect crash prevention grade and child seat anchors that had a couple of issues.

Ultimately, the winner based on the IIHS comparison has some privileges, but the buying decision has to take other factors into account.

One such factor is the insurance that a new vehicle will need. This includes understanding how premiums and deductibles work, how they off-set each other, how to initially negotiate coverage and applicable state minimum laws, and more.

To ensure that one gets the most bang for their buck, online researching is a great way of comparing insurance conglomerates. Use our free rate comparison tool below to find the best deal for the coverage you need.

This way, whether one buys an Atlas or an Acadia model will take into account more than a few tests of collisions that have a moderate sampling risk.

Who knows, through other tests on insurance, maintenance costs, gas, and so on, one might find Volkswagen to win the battle in the long run.

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