SUV Passenger Protection

March 15, 2023
A road with mountains in the distance

All these vehicles provide excellent protection for the driver, but only a handful extend that level of safety to the back seat.

President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), David Harkey, said after the IHHS completed recent safety testing.

Big Picture: The IIHS made recent changes to its front crash test, adding a passenger dummy behind the driver. By simulating a 40 mph front-end crash, they tested 13 midsize SUVs. Here's what they found:

  • Only four gained top marks: 2022-23 Ford Explorer, 2021-23 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2022-23 Subaru Ascent and 2022-23 Tesla Model Y
  • Three earned marginal ratings: 2022-23 Chevrolet Traverse, 2022-23 Toyota Highlander and 2022-23 Volkswagen Atlas
  • Six earned poor ratings: 2022 Honda Pilot, 2022-23 Hyundai Palisade, 2022-23 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2021-23 Jeep Wrangler 4-door, 2021-23 Mazda CX-9 and 2021-23 Nissan Murano

Why It Matters: The risk of fatal injury is 46% higher for backseat passengers than front seat passengers, according to the IHHS. Vice President of Vehicle Research Center at the IIHS, Raul Arbelaez says, "I wouldn't say that any of these vehicles became less safe. We continue to move the goalpost and create more challenging tests that we feel give consumers information about which vehicles are the safest."

Also To Note: All 13 SUVs tested earned good marks for driver protection.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Rear passenger protection falls short in most midsize SUVs

by Jenna Lee,