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

Mazda midsize SUV safety ratings for the CX-9 are much higher than ratings for the Jeep Cherokee. Mazda midsize SUV safety ratings are calculated based on crash and child safety tests.

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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...

  • The market for cars has grown to such an extent that people can now purchase car models of almost any size and shape
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety exposes autos’ weaknesses through in-depth testing that quantifies their performance in categories such as the crashworthiness, crash prevention, and child anchors
  • Driving an uninsured vehicle is against the law and people can be subjected to high fees because of it

It can be difficult to decide which SUV to buy because different producers focus on different areas of appeal:

  • innovative design
  • fuel efficiency
  • interior features
  • safety features

Mazda and Jeep, however, are both very similar companies whose SUVs are based on high-quality and inconvenience. Jeep dedicates all of their resources and time to creating top-notch autos such as Rubicon, Wrangler, Liberty, Patriot, and Cherokee.

They are characterized by light-weight tires and rims while the frame of the vehicle is on the heavy end of the spectrum.

Mazda is not as versatile in the area of SUVs as its only popular model is CX-9, which nonetheless breathes elegance and modern upgrades.

Compare car insurance rates between these models. Our free quote tool will show you where you can find the best car insurance coverage for the best rate.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) functions as a non-profit, service-based company that has been assessing vehicles’ safety abilities since the late 1950s.

Since many SUVs are heavy-weight cars that might have issues with safety, the IIHS places them under far-reaching tests that will evaluate the following three areas:

The grades a vehicle can obtain are poor, marginal, acceptable, and good for the crashworthiness and seat anchors. The crash prevention, however, only possesses three ratings that are broken into a basic, advanced, and superior level.

There is a point-oriented scale for each test, such as the roof’s weight-to-strength ratio as well as six points for the crash mitigation trades.

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Jeep Cherokee Versus Mazda CX-9

Jeep Cherokee first came around in the 1970s and is presently in its fifth generation. It offers some of the most creative features a car can have with a modernized design. Mazda CX-9 is a popular SUV that can get over 25 miles per gallon easily.

It is designed to transport multiple people and fit a lot of baggage if needed.


This test has five categories:

  • Front Small Overlap Test
  • Front Moderate Overlap Test
  • Roof Weight-to-Strength
  • Side Impact
  • Head Restraints

Mazda achieved the highest scores for all of these tests. Jeep, however, received one “marginal” score for its small overlap test.

The car’s survival space was not properly maintained during the impact and that there is a high chance of injuries.

The worst portion of Cherokee’s crashworthiness report involves the airbag efficiency. With the impact, the side curtain never got deployed and the seat belt lets the dummy move forward too much.

The head and neck injuries could be extensive as there is immediate contact with the instrument panel and glass.

While Mazda made sure that its CX-9 model possesses the ability to save lower limbs from compression injuries, Jeep did not succeed in accomplishing this goal.

The dummy placed inside the Cherokee demonstrated a moderate danger of injuries as the cabin was crushed. Therefore, Mazda takes the lead after the first categories’ results are put side-by-side.

Crash Prevention & Mitigation


Next, the capability to prevent an accident gets put to test. Both models achieved a “superior” rating, although Mazda had one point lead with its perfect score. Jeep came short in the 25-mph scenario where it reduced the speed to 13 miles per hour only.

Both models possessed the forward warning collision systems that met the standards set by the Institute. Also, the 12-mph test was successful in either scenario as the collisions were avoided.

Mazda established itself as the dominating brand once more since the third sub-test score was three to two points in its advantage.

Headlights for CX-9 and Cherokee were both “acceptable,” although Jeep required optional equipment and Mazda had to use only certain trims to get there.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

As with headlights, the latch test yielded to the same score for both cars. Jeep’s “acceptable” score was downgraded from “good” since the latches could be mistaken for other hardware, while Mazda’s anchors were too deep in the seat.

Both models had at least two rear positions with completed child seat attachments, and Mazda had an extra additional position with tether anchor.

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


The lack of a “good” score for the small overlap test diminished Jeep’s eligibility for either of these awards.

Mazda CX-9, however, had all the necessary qualifications to obtain the Top Safety Pick Plus.

These included a uniform “good” score for crashworthiness, “superior” performance in crash avoidance, and an “acceptable” rating for headlights.

Safety represents one of the most important factors that one will base their decision on, but there are many other things to be considered. One of these is the insurance that must accompany a new SUV.

The actual coverage purchased depends on the state laws, buyer’s willingness, and financial capabilities.

A place where one can research many types of insurance offerings from different companies is online websites that facilitate real-time comparisons. This way, the buyers can see what are the differences between popular brands and make an educated decision.

The Winner

Lastly, it is clear that Mazda won the comparison due to multiple reasons. The crashworthiness test went smoothly for CX-9 while Jeep demonstrated below-average abilities in injury minimization and airbag deployment.

Further, the faster crash prevention test was not as successful for Cherokee.

Jeep did score many prominent ratings such as four “good” scores for crashworthiness category, a “superior” crash prevention rating, and acceptable headlights and latches reviews.

These, unfortunately, did not go high enough to meet Mazda’s performance that gave it the Top Safety Pick Plus recognition.

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