Is Honda’s safety rating for midsize SUVs better than Chevy’s?

Honda's midsize SUV safety ratings for the Pilot are much better than the Chevy Equinox's ratings. Honda's midsize SUV safety ratings for the Pilot earned the Top Safety Picks+ 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...

  • Headquartered in Minato, Japan, Honda has reached a worldwide fame which enables it to stay on top of the auto industry
  • Chevrolet is an American brand that operates as a subdivision of General Motors
  • Honda and Chevy are well-known for a lot of their endeavors and some of the most prominent creations they have made are midsize SUVs such as Chevy Equinox, Trax, Tahoe, and Suburban as well as Honda Pilot and HR-V
  • As a regulatory agency that subjects vehicles to evaluations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts collision-based, real-life assessments

Vehicles’ safety can come with many different features such as powerful airbags with minimum deployment time, the ability to stop the cabin from getting compromised during a wreck, the overall longevity of the car, and so on.

Since SUVs, both large and midsize, are mostly driven by traditional families, the safety presents more than a number on a piece of paper.

Since buyers tend to get blinded by high-tech features of new SUVs such as the entertainment centers, adjustable seats, modern designs, and more, often, driver’s protection takes the back seat of the decision-making process.

One must evaluate every purchase of a brand new automobile for the long-term benefits as well as worst-case scenarios such as potent accidents.

Compare car insurance quotes today to see how much could be saved by switching providers. Enter your zip code into our free tool above to get started.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety


As a vital part of the pre-release evaluation process, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts tests that will make up for buyers’ lack of focus in the areas of safety. The company was formed in 1959 and is currently under the leadership of Adrian Lund.

The actual testing aims to quantify three categories that every vehicle must address:

All of the categories have different tests that are specifically designed for them. For example, the crashworthiness will be evaluated through small and moderate overlap front collisions, a side crash, roof strength-to-weight ratio, and head restraints efficiency.

Similarly, the crash prevention and mitigation are based on a 12-mph and 25-mph tests.

Grades for crashworthiness and child seat anchors can be good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. Crash prevention differs slightly as there are points assigned and any given car is eligible for six points if their performance is satisfactory.

Those six points get further converted to ratings of superior, advanced, or basic performance.


Since Chevy produces a lot more SUVs than Honda it comes as a surprise that this was the only SUV evaluated by the IIHS. Nonetheless, both brands had a single vehicle available which will ensure the comparison is fair.

The grades for the five tests conducted were “good” for both of these cars.

They demonstrated the ability to preserve the driver’s survival space during the small overlap test thus avoiding injuries. Side impact initiated airbags that prevented the driver from hitting any portion of the door or window that would result in cuts or fractures.

As far as the track record, Chevy’s notable performance is the fourth time this brand dominated the crashworthiness category whereas Honda only obtained these high scores twice thus far.

The roof’s weight-to-strength ratio was 4.17 for Chevy and 5.22 for Honda. Since Equinox had less curb weight it is hard to conclude why its ratio was an entire point lower than Pilot’s, but both brands got over the four-point threshold to get a “good” score.

Therefore, one can say that there was a tie between the brands.

Crash Prevention & Mitigation

The accident avoidance abilities are where a material difference in performance occurs. Honda was acknowledged as a “superior” car whose prevention abilities that facilitate collision escape or mitigation.

Chevy, on the other hand, only received one point or a “basic” score that required optional equipment.

The lack of 12-mph and 25-mph test for the American car happened because the vehicle had not low or high-speed auto brake. Honda took advantage of their engineering and sensor-sensitive technology to develop a system that scored five out of six points.

One point for the Japanese brand was missed as their 25-mph test only showed a speed reduction of 12 miles per hour, which was not enough to avoid a collision.

Regardless, Honda substantially outperformed Chevy that came short in this test as there was also a lack of headlights’ assessment, an area where Pilot obtained an “acceptable” score with certain trims.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

The last test reflects the battle seen in crashworthiness. Both models were “acceptable” in their abilities to host a child seat and the top score was missed due to several issues.

Common issues include hardware that can be mistaken for a latch, location that was inconvenient and hard to find, as well as anchors that might be difficult to maneuver around when there is no child seat attached.

Nevertheless, an “acceptable” score demonstrated decent abilities in this category and does not disqualify either brand from the Institute’s awards mentioned next.

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


Honda Pilot won the Top Safety Pick Plus as it had perfect scores in crashworthiness, superior crash prevention abilities, and acceptable headlights.

Chevy, unfortunately, came short in every single one of these categories which left it empty-handed as far as these recognitions go.

The clear winner of the comparison is Honda.

Nonetheless, Chevrolet Equinox had good performance during the crashworthiness review, where they obtained four out of five good scores, as well as notable accessibility of their latches.

All of this success, however, was not enough to top Honda’s perfect achievements in almost every single category including small overlap front test, crash mitigation, headlights, and so on.

Before concluding that either model is the more likely choice for someone, other non-quantitative factors have to be considered. These factors include:

As far as insurance goes, a prospective customer should obtain the knowledge of their state insurance laws, the coverage that is needed to stay protected during collisions, and more.

Premiums and deductibles will largely differ per driver, thus a good comparison tool to use is an online website that lists numerous companies with their offerings. Enter your zip code into our free quote tool below to get started finding the best coverage for you!

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