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

Mazda and Honda's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings from the IIHS, but Mazda scored slightly higher. Safety upgrades may lower your car insurance rates by up to 8%.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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 Motor Corporation holds around 46,000 employees and manufactures 1.2-million vehicles annually
  • Honda employs over 200,000 people and its output is over two million vehicles
  • A rocky history of vehicles that were improperly constructed has caused many deaths in that past, and presently, the buyers are somewhat skeptical about producers’ abilities to keep them safe
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts tests on automobiles to ensure that they are capable of providing cover for the driver and the passenger in case of a collision

A category of cars that gets frequently assessed is midsize Sports Utility Vehicles. Here, most common buyers include modern-day families that are upgrading from economy cars due to an increasing family size.

Nonetheless, SUVs are purchased by almost anybody who wishes to drive a bigger, more-elegant, and high-performing autos.

Some mainstream features available on these vehicles include high horsepower, high center of gravity, V6 engines, and so on.

Regardless of the up-scale traits that are implemented during the construction process, one can still purchase a traditional SUV for a reasonable price.

Once you’ve found a great SUV, use our FREE comparison tool to find insurance rates today!

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety


To ensure that products that reach the market are in the best condition possible, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) puts exemplary models to very difficult tests.

The reason that is behind this is their three categories which have to be evaluated and those are:


  • Frontal Small Overlap Crash
  • Frontal Moderate Overlap Crash
  • Side Crash
  • Roof Weight-to-Strength
  • Head and Neck Restraints

Crash Prevention and Mitigation

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • 12-mph Test
  • 25-mph Test
  • Headlights

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

  • Accessibility of Latches
  • Convenience
  • Ease of Use
  • Mazda CX-9 Versus Honda Pilot

Both models that will be used for comparison purposes are midsize SUVs and have been produced in 2017.

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Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot achieved an outstanding performance in the first round of tests. They both got the highest scores, “good,” for every single of the five sub-categories which helped them stay on track for a Top Safety Pick/Plus awards.

The small overlap front test indicated similar results which were based on good survival space retention as judged by the dummy driver’s position in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and panel.

The airbags got deployed in time to prevent any contact with hard objects or glass which could be potent in real-life. Although the prospective driver would have been exposed to some space reduction, no injuries occurred as a result of compression of lower limbs, chest, or similar.

As far as the historical trends go, both models are somewhat new to such an outstanding evaluation as Honda Pilot only attained the perfect performance for the second time, while it marks CX-9’s first time to do so.

Further, in order to qualify for a “good” grade on the roof’s evaluation, models had to get a score of four which was well satisfied since both of them went above five.

Generally speaking, the comparison starts with a very positive and high-note performance by both manufacturers and there is no clear winner to be declared just yet.

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Crash Prevention and Mitigation

Since CX-9 and Pilot are both capable of saving lives during an accident, but what are their capabilities when it comes to preventing accidents from happening? Well, once again, their abilities are above average as their ratings are “superior.”

This category is scored out of six points which becomes relevant as Honda came one point short of the perfect score of Mazda.

The issue for Honda was the 25-mph test where the vehicles had to demonstrate an ability to slow down and avoid a collision. Honda Pilot reduced its speed by 12 miles per hour which is not enough to avoid a collision.

Regardless, the fact that the model obtained all the points for the forward collision warning and the 12-mph test means that it is above many other cars on the market. It did lose the battle to the CX-9, however.

The models both obtained an “acceptable” rating for their headlights which was the threshold to remain eligible for the awards, but this did ruin their perfect track-record.

Child Seat Anchors


Given that the vehicles tested are family-oriented, children will be frequent passengers. Since state often requires particular driving laws to be followed, manufacturers are forced to create convenient latches that are easily connected to the car seats.

To review and grade them, the IIHS will look for latches and how deep they are in the seat, how much force is necessary to use them, how similar are they to the surrounding hardware, can one move around them easily, and so on.

Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9 both obtained an “acceptable” rating due to issues with locations visibility and confusing hardware.

Interestingly, this makes another category where they matched perfectly.

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

To qualify for Top Safety Pick Plus, vehicles need perfect scores in crashworthiness, advanced or superior scores in crash prevention, and acceptable or good headlights.

Both vehicles were qualified and selected for the Plus award which makes their offering exceptional.

The Winner


Prior to making a decision to buy either of the vehicles, drivers should also consider non-quantitative factors such as the insurance.

This can become relevant when people are accounting for monthly payments and premiums, but conducting a comparative online search can facilitate the best insurance purchase.

The only category where there was a disconnection between the vehicles was the crash prevention. Unfortunately, this was only one-point difference while both models still obtained the highest score.

For the lack of a more established statistics, the victory of Mazda is based on one single point margin in the crash prevention test, which might be the smallest win since the IIHS has started its operations.

Once you’ve found a great SUV, use our FREE comparison tool to find insurance rates today!

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

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