Is Toyota’s safety rating for midsize SUVs better than Chevy’s?

Toyota's midsize SUV received a top safety rating while Chevy's midsize SUVs did not. Upgrade your car's safety features to 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...

  • The 2017 Toyota Highlander is the second highest rated midsize SUV for overall safety in 2017 by the IIHS
  • While the Toyota Highlander received the highest safety award from the IIHS in 2017, the Chevy Equinox and the Toyota 4Runner were not honored in this same way
  • The Toyota Highlander and the Chevy Equinox both received the highest grades possible for all five of the crashworthy test areas

Many SUV buyers make a buying decision largely based on a vehicle’s price, style, and features. The important factor of safety may not always be reviewed by vehicle buyers because of the assumption that all vehicles in a specific class have a relatively similar safety rating.

You may have already narrowed down your options for your next SUV purchase to the Toyota Highlander, the Chevy Equinox.

However, surprisingly, the safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for these three midsize SUVs are different in several key areas.

Because of the variations in safety ratings between these three popular midsize SUV models, you may have an overall safer driving experience in one vehicle in comparison to the other two.

Safety features and ratings may also be examined by SUV insurance companies when you request new coverage quotes. Therefore, if you want to choose a safer and potentially more affordable SUV, a closer look at the IIHS safety ratings is necessary.

Also, take a look at how car insurance premiums vary between these models. Enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool to get started.

2017 IIHS Safety Ratings: Toyota Versus Chevy Midsize SUVs

The midsize SUV vehicle class is highly competitive in the area of sales, and buyers have numerous exceptional models to review from a wide range of automotive manufacturers.

While features and prices for many models are relatively similar in this class, safety ratings based on HIS tests vary substantially. These eight tests are categorized into the following categories:

  • LATCH
  • crashworthiness
  • crash avoidance and mitigation

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How the IIHS Conducts Its Safety Tests

Before you learn more about the Toyota and Chevy midsize SUV safety ratings from the IIHS, you need to know more about the three categories.

The LATCH safety category has only one test in it, and this important test area explores the ease with which child safety seats can be attached to a vehicle’s anchor latches.

There are five crashworthy safety tests analyzed by the IIHS, and the combined test results indicate the SUV’s overall ability to protect its occupants from harm is there is a collision.

The final IIHS safety category is the crash mitigation and avoidance section, and the two tests that fall under this category indicate the vehicle’s ability to prevent or mitigate accidents.

Seven of the eight tests included in these three IIHS safety tests are rated with one of the following grades:

  • Poor
  • Marginal
  • Average
  • Good

One of the tests, which is the Front Crash Prevention Test, is rated with one of the following grades:

  • Basic
  • Advanced
  • Superior

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LATCH for Child Seat Anchors: Installing Car Seats With Ease

The 2017 Toyota Highlander received a wonderful safety rating for the LATCH test of “good.” The Chevy Equinox, however, had a lower yet reasonable rating in this category of “average.”

The Toyota 4Runner, however, had a score of “marginal” in this category, and this is the second from the lowest rating possible for this test.

Crashworthiness: Protecting Occupants from Injuries

Both the Highlander and the Equinox for 2017 received an exceptional “good” score for all five of the tests that examine crashworthiness. These tests are Roof Strength, Head Restraints and Seats, Side, Front Small Overlap, and Front Moderate Overlap.

The 4Runner had a “good” rating as well in four of the categories, but its score for the Front Small Overlap test was “marginal.”

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation: Reducing or Preventing Collisions

This important test category is comprised of the Front Crash Prevention test and the Headlights test. The Toyota Highlander received a “superior” score for Front Crash Prevention, and the Equinox had a “basic” score in this area.

The 4Runner was not reviewed for this test. For the Headlights category, the Highlander was rated “average,” the 4Runner was rated “poor,” and the Equinox was not reviewed.

Midsize SUVs with High Safety Ratings: Safety Awards from the IIHS

Because of their overall lower rates in many IIHS safety areas, the 2017 Chevy Equinox and the 2017 4Runner have not been honored by the IIHS for their safety ratings.

However, the 2017 Highlander had the second highest safety ratings in this vehicle class, and it received the highest safety award of Top Safety Pick+ for 2017.

To earn this high-level safety award, a vehicle must have higher ratings in the Headlights and Front Crash Prevention areas and the highest ratings in the five tested areas under the crashworthiness category.

Are midsize Toyota SUVs safer than the Chevy SUV in this class?

The Chevy Equinox for 2017 did not rate as high in safety ratings as the Highlander. The key variations between these two vehicles were in the LATCH, Headlights, and Front Small Overlap tests.

The 4Runner had the lowest ratings of all three of these vehicles, and the primary difference between the Equinox and the 4Runner was in the Front Small Overlap test area.

The primary reason to review IIHS safety ratings for the Toyota and Chevy midsize SUVs may be to buy a vehicle that is safer overall to drive. A second and very important reason relates to auto insurance rates.

Because providers often analyze safety capabilities of vehicles when preparing new quotes for coverage, you could potentially find a vehicle that could qualify for better insurance rates when you analyze IIHS test results.

Comparing several insurance quotes could help you to finalize your important buying decision. Enter your zip code below to get started comparing.

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