Is Hyundai’s safety rating for midsize SUVs better than Mazda’s?

Hyundai and Mazda's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings from the IIHS. Reduce your car insurance rates by up to 8% by installing new safety upgrades.

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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...

  • Hyundai and Mazda SUVs are frequently compared against each other because of their exceptional style and features, and they share many safety test results as well
  • One midsize Mazda SUV and two Hyundai models in the same class received high safety honors from the IIHS in 2017
  • The IIHS analyzes vehicles in the midsize SUV class in eight unique safety test areas

When you are in the market to purchase a new midsize SUV, you understandably may be taking a closer look at what the Mazda and Hyundai models offer.

These two established automotive brands have stylish models that are loaded with thoughtful, innovative features.

Some drivers who have experienced the exceptional driving experience that many vehicles in this class can provide may feel undeniably safe driving around in such a large, well-equipped vehicle.

According to the IIHS, or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, this may actually be a false sense of safety.

While the two Hyundai models reviewed by the IIHS in the class and the single Mazda model have great safety marks in most of the areas tested, it is important to note that there are a few test areas where results were lower than what you may expect.

Each automotive buyer should understand a vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses in all areas of safety before making a new vehicle purchase. Use our FREE quote tool to find auto insurance rates now!

What the IIHS Safety Tests Say about the Mazda and Hyundai Midsize SUVs


While it may be easy to assume that all midsize SUVs have rather high and similar safety ratings, the IIHS test results indicate otherwise.

This reputable organization has completed eight types of safety tests on the midsize SUV vehicle class, and you will see that these eight tests have been grouped into three larger sections.

For most of the tests completed by the IIHS, the vehicles are given a score of:

  • Good
  • Average
  • Marginal
  • Poor

The exception to this IIHS rating system is with the Front Crash Prevention test, which offers the following scores for each vehicle:

  • Superior
  • Advanced
  • Basic

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Exploring the Safety Test Groups

The last thing you may want to think about when shopping for a new car is the possibility of being involved in an injury accident, but these things happen regularly.

The IIHS Crashworthiness tests include Roof Strength, Front Moderate Overlap, Head Restraints and Seats, Side, and Front Small Overlap.

These tests together provide you with valuable information about a vehicle’s unique ability to prevent or reduce injuries in an accident.

Front Crash Prevention and Headlights are two tests that fall under the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation safety group. These tests analyze the SUV’s overall ability to either reduce the significance of accident-related damage or prevent a collision altogether.

Many drivers will install child safety seats in their rear seating area to keep little ones safe on the road, and the unique LATCH category for child seat anchors indicates if the anchors are easier or harder for drivers to use.

Because a car seat needs to be securely and properly fastened to the vehicle in order to function properly, LATCH results are important to learn about.



You may be thrilled to learn that the Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Sport, and the Mazda CX-9 have solid “good” ratings for each of these five test sections. This is the highest rating possible for each of these five tests.

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

For the Front Crash Prevention safety test the CX-9, Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Sport were given a “superior” score. The Hyundai Santa Fe generated a “good” score in the Headlights test area.

The Mazda CX-9 had an “average” rating for Headlights, and the Santa Fe Sport was given a score of “poor.”

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

The two Hyundai SUV models and the Mazda SUV model reviewed by the IIHS in 2017 had “average” scores for the LATCH child seat anchor test.

These are not the highest ratings possible, but they are nonetheless good.

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

As you examine IIHS safety test results for 2017, you will notice that the Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-9 were recognized by the IIHS with the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ accolade.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport received the honor of 2017 Top Safety Pick.

Both of these honors require exceptionally high scores in the Front Crash Prevention and Crashworthiness areas.

To receive the Top Safety Pick+ accolade, vehicles must meet these requirements and must also have a great score on the Headlights test.

Is Hyundai safer than Mazda in 2017 for midsize SUVs?


Now that you have learned more about the IIHS test results for the two midsize Hyundai SUVs and the Mazda SUV for 2017, you will notice that the CX-9 and Santa Fe both received the highest safety award available.

The primary difference between these two vehicles is that the CX-9 received a slightly lower Headlights score. The Santa Fe Sport received an even lower score for Headlights as well as a lower score for LATCH.

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Compare Insurance Rates before You Buy

While you want to buy a safe, attractive midsize SUV, you also need to verify that the model you are interested in is affordable for your budget.

Structuring an affordable auto loan payment is one step to take, but you also need to request and review SUV auto insurance quotes on your preferred models.

Remember that safety ratings, as well as the car’s value, the engine power, and numerous other factors are taken into consideration when an auto provider creates a rate quote for you.

Use our FREE quote tool to find auto insurance rates now!

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