Nissan vs Chevy Midsize SUV Safety Rating Comparison: Who Comes Out On Top?

Nissan safety ratings for the Murano midsize SUV are better than ratings for the Chevy Equinox. Due to Nissan midsize SUVs scoring higher than Chevy midsize SUVs they will generally have lower insurance rates. Nissan safety ratings for midsize SUVs are based on crashworthiness, crash prevention, and child safety.

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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...

  • The number of midsize SUVs sold throughout the year dramatically exceeds sales for full-size SUVs, pickups, and vans
  • Nissan is well known for its midsize and full-size sedans but data shows the company may top SUV sales in 2017
  • The shift from cars to SUVs is so dramatic that manufacturers like Nissan and Chevy are placing focus on crossovers
  • Chevy was once known for the full-size Suburban but has since halted production to focus on fuel-efficient alternatives
  • If you compare the Nissan Murano and the Chevy Equinox, Nissan has the safer model and earns a Top Safety Pick

Nissan has been a respected automaker dating back to 1933. The brand’s entire mission has been to “Change The World and the Way We Move Through It” and that’s just what the car company has done.

By offering efficient, stylish, and high-performance vehicles, Nissan possessed a lot of the market share in the value segment of the car industry.

Innovation has always been Nissan’s priority. The innovation didn’t just stop with sedans, sports cars, and light pickup trucks. Just a 14 years ago in 2003, Nissan released its first midsize SUV called the Nissan Murano.

Since it was introduced in the market, the vehicle has gained tons of popularity for being an effective alternative to full-size SUVs made by competitors like Chevy and Ford.

Chevy quickly took notice of the shift in sales trends and introduced its own midsize SUV called the Chevy Equinox the next year.

While the company was already respected for the Suburban and the Tahoe, the Equinox opened a new door to a new market the automaker had never tapped into. The cars may have similar body styles but they are different in many ways.

Midsize SUVs, which are commonly called crossovers, are a great alternative to what was on the market prior to the early 2000s. Since they are fuel efficient and easy to maneuver, they have become the perfect family vehicle.

As with anything you buy for your family, you should always make the safest choice possible. That’s why it’s best to take a look at the safety ratings of both Nissan’s and Chevy’s midsize SUVs as you’re researching your options.

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How to Research Safety Ratings

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The only way to truly determine whether or not Nissan is safer than Chevy is to use unbiased safety data published by organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The IIHS uses scientific information that’s gathered after the organization administers crash tests to assign grades to the vehicles.

With a fully-stocked Vehicle Research Center, the IIHS has spent billions to ensure that they assign the most accurate safety ratings whenever a new model hits the line.

Instead of assuming all midsize SUVs are safe to drive, it’s in your best interest to understand to see how vehicles hold up once they leave the crash hall. Here are each of the tests that are performed:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats
  • Front crash prevention
  • Headlights
  • Child seat anchors (LATCH)

Every vehicle gets a rating in each test area. There are both crashworthiness tests and other crash avoidance tests that assess the performance of systems like child seat latches and headlights.

A vehicle must get a minimum rating in each area to get a Top Safety Pick award. Here are the ratings that are used from best to worst:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor

Front Crash Prevention Ratings:

  • Superior
  • Advanced
  • Basic

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Compare Safety Ratings between Nissan and Chevy for Midsize SUVs

You can get behind the wheel of a vehicle on the dealer lot and like the feel and the maneuverability of a vehicle, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a safe pick. The only way to see if a car has the structural design to protect occupants in a crash is to be in one.

You should rely on the safety ratings before you buy a car.

You can’t look at the general safety ratings of a specific make and get accurate information. Instead, you’ll have to look at how a specific model produced by a specific brand performs.

If you’re trying to decide between a Nissan and a Chevy, it’s best to consider how the first midsize SUVs produced by each performer. For this scenario, we will be looking at the Nissan Murano and the Chevy Equinox.

Safety Ratings of the Nissan Murano

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Superior (with optional equipment)
  • Headlights – Marginal (on certain trims)
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Acceptable

The Nissan Murano scored “Good” ratings in each and every crash test performed because tests showed there was a low risk of significant injuries in crashes at moderate speeds.

In addition, the Murano received the highest possible front crash prevention rating with “Superior” marks and a five out of six of these tests.

The IIHS just recently started rating headlights. While the Murano only earned a “Marginal” rating, this is common among all vehicles. Very few cars rated received a higher rating on headlights.

The maker has room for improvement with child seat anchor ratings because they are too deep in the seats and there are only two latches to choose from.

Safety Ratings of the Chevy Equinox

Table charts with data and statistics

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Basic (with optional equipment)
  • Headlights – No Rating
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Acceptable

Like the Nissan Murano, the Chevy Equinox earned “Good” grades all the way around the board. The vehicle lacks in the front crash prevention department and received the lowest possible “Basic” rating after earning one point out of six in tests.

What’s shocking is that this rating was given after testing the Equinox with the optional Driver Confidence Package II.

Since the Equinox was tested before the headlight rating was created, there’s no grade for illumination or glare. There is, however, a rating for child seat anchors. Both cars earned an “Acceptable” grade.

The reason the system wasn’t rated “Good” was that the tether anchor latches could be confused for other hardware.

The 2017 Top Safety Pick Award

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Not all cars are qualified to receive the 2017 Top Safety Pick Award. To earn this award, the vehicle must receive Good ratings in crashworthiness and at least a Superior or Advanced rating in front crash prevention.

The only higher award is the Top Safety Pick+.

Out of these two models being tested, only the Nissan Murano was a Top Safety Pick recipient.

If you look at the overall performance of the Nissan vs. the Chevy, Nissan produces the safer midsize SUV. It was primarily the fact that the Chevy performed poorly on front crash prevention tests that made Nissan the winner.

It didn’t help that the Equinox’s headlight system was not rated.

If you’re going to buy a Nissan midsize SUV, you need to shop around to find a dealer that will offer you the best dealer. You’ll also need to shop the market for the best insurance premiums.

Since Nissan is safer than Chevy, you shouldn’t have a problem finding low-cost premiums for auto insurance shopping online. Use our free car insurance comparison tool to get started finding the best rate!

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