Mazda vs Dodge Midsize SUV Safety Rating Comparison: Who Comes Out On Top?

Mazda midsize SUV safety ratings for the CX-9 are much higher than the Dodge Durango's safety ratings. Due to Mazda midsize SUVs scoring higher than Dodge midsize SUVs they will generally have lower insurance rates. Mazda midsize SUV safety ratings earned the CX-9 Top Safety Pick Plus recognition.

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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...

  • Mazda CX-9 is one of the most popular SUVs that the Japanese brand has produced
  • Dodge Durango is a creation of the American car manufacturer that operates and dominates the market in many aspects
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts scientific and real-world testing on auto safety
  • Collisions of vehicles have been an issue ever since driving was invented

Buying a vehicle can be a tedious process which may include the following steps:

  • numerous dealership visits
  • extensive online research
  • communication with those who have experience in the area

Arguably, the most important factor that should drive a customer’s decision-making process is the safety offered by the prospective car. Protection is further amplified with SUVs that are notorious for transporting families.

To ensure that people are not exposed to shortcomings of production such as sub-par brake systems, non-responsive seat belt mechanisms, or similar, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts in-depth collision tests.

Through those, crashworthiness, crash prevention and mitigation, and child seat anchor or latches get rated on a unique scale.

The scores are based on how well a car preserves the driver during a collision, how well the car detects danger and subsequently auto brakes, as well as how convenient the latches for child seats are located.

Therefore, crashworthiness and latches can be poor, marginal, acceptable, or good, whereas crash prevention systems can receive the following ratings:

  • basic
  • advanced
  • superior

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Mazda CX-9 Versus Dodge Durango

The first of the three main categories the IIHS evaluates is how a vehicle protects its passengers in a collision.


To begin the comparison with the higher-scoring model, Mazda CX-9 completed this test with five “good” scores for every single sub-category.

The vehicle was capable of maintaining a safe survival space, airbags absorbed any head momentum that could have been potent, no lower limb injuries occurred, and the dummy tested came out in a great condition.

Dodge Durango, however, came short on the front small overlap test as it failed to maintain a safe survival space for the driver.

As a consequence, the driver’s left foot was exposed to a high risk of injury when getting in contact with the door hinge pillar, brake pedal, and even the instrumental panel.

The airbag that was supposed to prevent any injuries during the front tests was unable to stop the head from sliding off to the left.

Therefore, Mazda CX-9 provided a safer environment for any driver who might find themselves involved in an accident.

Crash Prevention and Mitigation

As a part of this evaluation, the vehicles have to demonstrate superior performance during the 12-mph and 25-mph test in order to get the highest score. CX-9 continued its trend of high performance while Durango never even had its auto brake tested.

Mazda was capable of avoiding a collision in both scenarios described previously, courtesy of its high-tech, modern danger-sensors that recognized a threat and brought the vehicle to a complete stop.

Looking at the previous performance of Durango, since the current was not available, the highest that the car ever got was an “advanced” rating.

The headlights could have been slightly better in Mazda’s case as the vehicle received an “acceptable” rating. Importantly, however, this is still high enough to qualify for Top Safety Pick Plus which is the most notable award the IIHS gives. 

Durango came short again and received a “moderate” rating, which further cemented its second position.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

Lastly, both brands achieved an “acceptable” rating for their latches. The SUVs had two rear seating positions that came with full anchors and some more tether-anchor positions.

Common shortcomings involved other hardware that can be mistaken for an anchor, positioning that is too deep in the seat, and latches that are hard to find. This category came in as a tie between these two cars.

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


In order to win the first award, a vehicle has to have perfect crashworthiness scores, advanced or superior crash prevention scores, while the Plus award requires good or acceptable headlights on top of these requirements.

Durango did not score high enough to win either of these awards, while Mazda surpassed all the threshold and took the Top Safety Pick Plus recognition.

Prior to declaring Mazda as the winner, drivers should take into account that the car-buying process requires more than safety research. Insurance, for example, is one of the most important factors that should pace the decision-making process with users of new cars.

The following are some questions to carefully consider before buying a new car:

  • How much has to be put aside for monthly or semi-annual premiums?
  • What is the deductible?
  • What coverage is provided?

Online research of websites that compare multiple insurance companies can help one obtain the best offer which mirrors their individual needs.

As far as the winner goes, Mazda received better scores for crashworthiness since Durango failed to demonstrate proper survival safe retention.

Furthermore, Dodge never demonstrated a superior ability to prevent accidents as its auto brake was not reviewed and the highest score this model ever received was an advanced/acceptable rating.

Therefore, Mazda takes the victory with nearly perfect scores across most of the categories.

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