Volkswagen vs Ford Midsize SUV Safety Ratings Comparison: Who Comes Out On Top?

Volkswagen vs Ford Midsize SUV Safety Ratings comparison is an important step in comparing the VW Atlas vs. the Ford Flex. Volkswagen midsize SUV safety ratings for the Atlas are better than ratings for the Ford Flex. Due to Ford midsize SUVs scoring lower than Volkswagen midsize SUVs they will generally have higher insurance rates. Volkswagen midsize SUV safety ratings are based on crashworthiness, crash prevention, and child latch.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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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...

  • Safety of vehicles in the market is one of the most important attributes that sometimes gets overlooked
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a company that operates out of Virginia and tests vehicles’ safety
  • Brands such as Volkswagen and Ford both produce state-of-the-art SUVs such as Volkswagen Atlas and Ford Flex
  • To compare different safety performances by autos, the IIHS breaks down all their ratings into crashworthiness, crash prevention, and child latch scores
  • When buying a vehicle, indirect factors play a key role as well

Sports Utility Vehicles, often get stereotyped as family cars driven by middle-aged individuals with children. This trend, however, is changing on a daily basis with thousands of people outside of this demographic purchasing SUVs.

Generally, the safety thresholds that younger buyers will be concerned with are not as high, which can result in a dangerous situation when vehicles’ are not produced properly.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) plays a very prominent role evaluating the safety of vehicles, and consumers should pay attention to their ratings.

Compare car insurance quotes to see how much these safety features could save you on your premiums. Enter your zip code into our free quote tool above to get started.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

The inspections that the Institute bases their ratings on are in-depth analyses of crash performance. Every car assessed will be subjected to a destructive compilation of tests that are aimed to give feedback on the following:

  • survival space maintenance
  • airbags’ efficiency
  • seat belt safety
  • danger detection sensors

There are three main categories that the IIHS evaluates:

  • Crashworthiness is the first area that the Institute focuses on. There are five sub-categories which include experiments in the frontal small and moderate collisions, roof and side impact crashes, and head restraints. The grades that a vehicle can get are good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.
  • Crash prevention is a category where the Institute hopes to avoid any collisions. The procedure puts vehicles’ danger sensors and auto-brakes through a 12-mph and 25-mph scenarios. The rating for cars that achieve a notable speed reduction or avoid a collision is superior, those that fail to do so are basic, and any combination of the two is rated as advanced.
  • Child anchors are the last category that quantifies the placement of the latches.

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Volkswagen Atlas Versus Ford Flex

To demonstrate how the assessments work, a comparison between the German Manufacturer Volkswagen and American conglomerate Ford will be done.


Volkswagen Atlas won the first challenge due to a better score in the small overlap crash assessment. The Ford’s abilities were undermined as the survival space was hindered and the airbags showed a minimum support for the head and the body.

The danger of injury to legs and feet was not substantial even though there was a considerable intrusion to the door hinge and instrument panel.

Atlas, however, enjoyed perfect crashworthiness ratings due to its capabilities to preserve the dummy. The survival space was maintained well, there was a very low risk of injuries to the head, neck, legs, feet, or any other body part.

The roof’s weight-to-strength ratio was 5.29 which is a lot more than the threshold for the highest score (4.0).

Ford Flex had areas of improvement and an acceptable small overlap test is a perfect example. Nonetheless, the model demonstrated an above-average safety since all other ratings were good.

Ultimately, the winner for this area is Volkswagen and Ford came very close to being tied.

Crash Prevention & Mitigation


The next domain discussed demonstrated Ford’s inability to keep up with the German manufacturer. The crash prevention scores were superior for Atlas and only basic for Flex.

The point-wise score was five to one, thus illustrating how much work Ford has to do on their model.

The 12-mph and 25-mph tests were never performed in Ford’s case, while Atlas won two points for each of these categories.

The reason why Volkswagen SUV lost one point in the last test was its failure to completely avoid a collision since the speed reduction was capped at 17 miles per hour.

Regardless, this score was more than enough to overpower Ford’s marginal performance that only had a point for the existence of the forward collision warnings.

Headlights for both models were marginal, which is not a great demonstration of ability. For Volkswagen, the visibility was inadequate in all four tests while Ford only underperformed in the gradual left curve.

This test was not indicative of a better model as they both failed to deliver an up-to-par performance.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

The only category that Ford won was the latch review. With its acceptable score, it outdid Volkswagen that was marginal once again.

Almost seems as if the producer of Atlas dedicated most of their time and resources to crashworthiness and crash prevention, neglecting headlights and latches.

An area of difficulty for both models was the fact that anchors were too deep in the seat, while Volkswagen went on to require too much force for latches to be used. Thus, Flex finally obtained a victory over its SUV competitor.

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


In order to qualify for a basic Top Safety Pick award, models had to have perfect crashworthiness results combined with superior/advanced crash prevention grades. Since Ford received an acceptable score on the small overlap test, it was disqualified from receiving this recognition.

Another award available is the Top Safety Pick Plus that required acceptable headlights on top of the other two standards. Since Volkswagen Atlas did not meet the headlights threshold, it was capped at the Top Safety Pick award.

The comparison was won by Volkswagen who took crashworthiness and crash prevention by the storm. There was a clear lack of dominance in the headlights and latch area where Ford somewhat made up for its previous losses.

Regardless, Volkswagen still came out victorious and the manufacturer can now focus on improving on its shortcomings.

A crucial part of purchasing a vehicle includes obtaining an appropriate insurance. Federal laws prohibit one from driving an uninsured vehicle and disobeying this law can result in hefty fines or jail time.

A source that comes in handy when comparing car insurance quotes are websites that have multi-company comparisons laid out side-by-side. By looking at those, one can find the major differences between the offers and pick what fits their needs the best!

Enter your zip code into our free car insurance comparison tool below to find the best rate for the coverage you need.

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