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

Toyota's midsize SUV received a top safety rating while Dodge's midsize SUV scored low. Safety features 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...

  • In 2017, the IIHS ran safety tests on two Dodge model and two Toyota models in the midsize SUV class
  • The 2017 Dodge Durango and Dodge Journey both received low scores for the Front Small Overlap test, the LATCH test, and the Headlights test
  • The Toyota Highlander had the second highest safety ratings based on IIHS tests for the midsize SUV class


While safety on the road is undeniably a top concern for many drivers, some drivers, unfortunately, fail to review safety ratings before buying a new vehicle.

When it comes to midsize SUVs, drivers may feel secure when test driving these vehicles because of their large size and dominant presence on the road.

However, among the many midsize SUVs that were tested in multiple safety areas by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2017, many SUVs fell below average in multiple safety categories.

Both Toyota and Dodge have multiple vehicles in this class in 2017, and these are the Toyota 4Runner, the Toyota Highlander, the Dodge Durango, and the Dodge Journey.

If you are thinking about buying one of these popular models, you should spend time learning more about their IIHS safety test results. These results could affect your auto insurance rates as well as your overall well-being on the road.

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The IIHS Safety Test Ratings for Midsize SUVs

While Dodge and Toyota both have stylish and well-appointed vehicles in the midsize SUV class in 2017, the results of the IIHS safety tests indicate major discrepancies in numerous areas.

While the IIHS gives awards for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ each year, it also publishes the test results for all eight of the areas it tests.

These eight areas are grouped into three larger categories for easier analysis and review.

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Reviewing the Three IIHS Safety Categories

The IIHS classifies the safety test results into three groups:

  • Crashworthiness five tests, determines how crashworthy an SUV is
  • Crash Avoidance and Mitigation two tests, determine if an SUV can respond to the threat of a potential crash
  • Latch one test, determines if the car seats can easily be installed in the correct manner for optimal safety of young passengers

When you take a closer look at each of these eight safety tests, you will find that seven of them receive one of the following ratings:

  • Poor
  • Marginal
  • Average
  • Good

The last of the seven IIHS safety tests have a different rating system, and it includes grades of:

  • Basic
  • Advanced
  • Superior

Analyzing the Five Crashworthiness Tests

To determine how crashworthy an SUV is, the IIHS completes tests in the following areas:

All four of the Dodge and Toyota SUVs that were analyzed in this vehicle class in 2017 had a “good” score in the areas of Front Moderate Overlap, Head Restraint and Seats, Roof Strength and Sides.

The Toyota Highlander also had a “good” grade for Front Small Overlap. However, the Dodge Durango and the Toyota 4Runner received a “marginal” score in this area, and the Dodge Journey received a “poor” rating for this test.

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Reviewing the Ease of the Using Child Car Seat Anchors (LATCH)

Being able to easily and accurately secure car seats in your vehicle is critical if you plan to drive with children in your new SUV.

The Toyota Highlander is the only vehicle in the midsize SUV class to receive a “good” mark for the LATCH safety test.

An “average” score was given to the Dodge Durango, and a “marginal” score was given to the Dodge Journey and the Toyota 4Runner.

Determining a Vehicle’s Safety Performance on the Road

Avoiding and mitigating crashes is analyzed by the IIHS under the tests for Headlights and Front Crash Prevention. Of these four vehicles, the Highlander received the highest rating of “average” for Headlights.

The Dodge Durango earned a score of “marginal” for Headlights, and the Dodge Journey and Toyota 4Runner earned a “poor” score.

In the area of Front Crash Prevention, the Highlander received a score of “superior,” and the Durango received a “basic” score partially because the front auto-brake was not tested. The Journey and the 4Runner were not tested at all in this area.

IIHS Safety Test Awards

The IIHS Top Safety Pick award is given to every vehicle in this class that has earned a “good” score for all five of the crashworthy test areas and a higher score in the Front Crash Prevention area.

An even higher honor of Top Safety Pick+ is given to SUVs that also have a higher rating for the Headlights safety test.

For the Dodge and Toyota models in this vehicle class, the Highlander was the only vehicle honored in this way. It received the Top Safety Pick+ honor.

Finding the Safer Make: Toyota Versus Dodge

The Dodge Journey had the lowest safety ratings overall based on the 2017 IIHS safety tests, and the Toyota Highlander was the second highest overall.

The primary differences between these two vehicles are in the areas of Latch, Headlights, Front Small Overlap, and Front Crash Prevention.

As important as it is for your well-being to find a midsize SUV that has great safety ratings, you also should be aware that safety features and capabilities of these vehicles may play a partial role in the cost of your auto insurance premium.

Getting auto insurance quotes before you buy a new SUV can help you to learn more about the role safety ratings may have on the cost of your auto insurance. Make sure to compare rates with our free quote tool below! 

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