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

Toyota and GMC's midsize SUVs both received top safety ratings, but GMC scored higher. 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...

  • When comparing the IIHS safety test results for GMC and Toyota midsize SUVs in 2017, you will notice that Toyota models have the highest and lowest ratings overall between these four vehicles
  • The Toyota Highlander and GMC Acadia were recognized by the IIHS in 2017 for excellence in safety
  • Because safety ratings are only one of the numerous factors that car insurance review when you request a new SUV coverage quote, obtaining a few quotes for different models before you finalize your purchase plans is an excellent idea


Some of the more popular midsize SUV models on the market today are manufactured by reputable automakers, such as GMC and Toyota. Each of these top automakers has two vehicles in this class, and these are the following:

One step that you may take to decide which of these four SUVs you should buy is to test drive them at local dealerships. By doing so, you may delight in the overwhelmingly safe feeling that you experience behind the wheel.

While you are comparing safety ratings, make sure to compare rates with our free quote tool above! 

As confident and secure as you may feel while driving one of these larger SUVs, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) safety test results tell a different story.

In fact, some SUV buyers may be floored by the lower safety ratings for some of these vehicles in various tests.

If you want to make an informed buying decision that is based partially on safety ratings, examining the IIHS test results is an important step to take.

Midsize SUV Ratings for GMC Versus Toyota: How the Vehicles Measure Up in IIHS Tests

Between the Acadia, Terrain, Highlander, and 4Runner, you may think that your primary buying decision should be based on style, price, and features.

After all, it is easy to assume that safety features and ratings would be rather uniform when you are looking at popular midsize sport utility vehicles like these.

The eight IIHS safety test results that are categorized into three larger groups indicate considerable variations in some of the test results.

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What You Can Learn from the IIHS Safety Tests

Multiple factors can affect how safe you and your passengers actually are on the road. For example, the safety group that contains five crashworthy tests indicates how well a vehicle can protect SUV occupants from injuries while on the road.

The LATCH safety group that contains only one test analyzes if the car seat anchors are easy to use. The crash mitigation and avoidance group has two tests that reveal if an SUV can reasonably avoid being in an accident or minimize how severe the damage may be.

One of the tests in the crash mitigation safety test group has been rated with a possible score of “superior” on the high end to “advanced” and “basic” on the lower end of the spectrum.

The other seven IIHS tests were given a rating of “poor” or “marginal” on the lower end to “average” or “good” on the higher end.

Is the SUV crashworthy?

Front Small Overlap, Roof Strength, Head Restraints and Seats, Front Moderate Overlap, and Sides are the tested areas.

The 4Runner received a “marginal” result in the Front Small Overlap test and a “good” result in the other four tested safety areas in this group. A “good” rating was awarded to the Highlander, Acadia, and Terrain in all five crashworthiness tests.

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Are the car seat anchors easy to use?

The LATCH safety test that examines how easy car seats are to anchor into the SUV is an important factor that parents and other caregivers need to pay attention to.

While the Acadia received a “good” rating for the LATCH test in 2017, the two GMC SUV models reviewed were given an “average” score. The 4Runner received the lowest score of these four models in this area, which was “marginal.”

Does the SUV have capabilities to reduce or avoid accidents?

Some vehicles have specific design features that can help drivers to prevent crashes or to keep the damage to a minimum.

In the Front Crash Prevention test in this area, a “superior” test score was given to the Acadia, and both the Terrain and Highlander were awarded a “basic” score. Notably, the 4Runner was not analyzed in this test area.

None of these four SUVs had a “good” rating in the Headlights test in 2017, but the Acadia did receive a decent “average” score. On the other hand, the Acadia was given a score of “marginal” and the other

One Toyota SUV and One GMC SUV Honored for Excellence in Safety

You may notice that many SUVs in the midsize class have not been honored by the IIHS for excellence in safety, and this may be surprising to you.

This includes two of the GMC and Toyota models in this group. However, the GMC Acadia was recognized as a Top Safety Pick+ in 2017, and the Toyota Highlander was honored as a Top Safety Pick.

In order for an SUV to receive a Top Safety Pick honor, the model must have better test results for the five crashworthiness tests and for the Front Crash Prevent test.

The additional requirement of having a higher test result for Front Crash Prevention is required for the Top Safety Pick+ award. The LATCH test results do not play a role in these safety tests.

Selecting a Safer SUV: GMC or Toyota

In a comparison of safety test results for the two GMC SUVs and the two Toyota SUVs analyzed in this vehicle class, you will see that the Acadia and Highlander for 2017 had better overall test results than the Terrain and the 4Runner.

Front Crash Prevention and Headlights test results were two of the most significant test area differences.

As you continue to form your decision about which of these SUVs to purchase soon, consider requesting online SUV coverage quotes.

Just as the safety ratings can vary by vehicle, insurance costs may also be rather different in some cases. Make sure to compare rates for either vehicle with our free quote tool below!

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