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Is Acura’s safety rating for midsize luxury SUVs better than BMW’s?

Things to remember...

  • People who are willing to sacrifice some vehicle magnitude for more opulence gave birth to what is known as the luxury SUVs
  • Weight tends to stay under 4,500 pounds which is mostly a low-end weight for bigger cars
  • A company well-versed in this area is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that conducts testing on many automobile categories
  • The IIHS did the aforementioned tests on Acura MDX and BMW X3, two four-doors, luxurious SUVs, and comparing the outcomes can help sway a buyer into making the right decision

Originally, SUVs were produced as a midsize vehicle which was considered large back in the 1960s. Made for the purposes of war and materials transportation, they had to have some extra cargo space.

Nowadays, these models evolved to a point where half a dozen people can be seated and hundreds of pounds can be easily transported. This ability makes them quite the transit-wagon for a wide market share that purchases them regularly.

However, reduced safety can be a consequence of the weight distribution and light-weight tires that cause frequent hydroplaning or just new drivers not knowing how to operate these vehicles. There is a small learning curve to midsize SUVs.

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Table of Contents

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Safety Ratings

To help people stay safe despite this hindering detail mentioned above, the IIHS documents how an SUV does in a real-life collision against a concrete wall. A dummy is placed in the driver seat and his sensors depict the injuries he underwent.

Crashworthiness is the first area quantified and it is based on five tests:

  • front moderate overlap
  • small overlap
  • side
  • roof strength-to-weight ratio
  • head restraints and seats

Grades achievable are good, acceptable, moderate, or poor.

Then, crash prevention abilities get evaluated in a 12-mph and 25-mph test alongside the review of forward collision warning systems. The test is based on six points total and carries three word-grades which are superior, advanced, and basic.

Lastly, child anchors accessibility is observed in a non-invasive manner and grades are assigned on the same scale as in crashworthiness.

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The first category comes as an easy win for Acura MDX scored five out of five “good” scores for this test whereas the BMW X3 only scored four out of five “good” scores because of its lack of results for the front small overlap test.

The roof’s performance was substantially better with Acura who had a 5.87 ratio, while the BMW only achieved 4.69. The lack of BMW’s small overlap collision makes it impossible to decide on whether the vehicle preserved survival space appropriately.

Acura, notwithstanding, retained the driver’s space very well and the airbags helped the driver avoid hard surfaces with glass. The extent of injuries was minimal and there was only a small intrusion to the lower parts of the dummy’s body.

MDX’s performance marks the fourth year that the model got a perfect score for crashworthiness, while the BMW has never had its front small overlap score assigned.

Crash Prevention & Mitigation

This category was evenly matched as both models received a “superior” rating.

Notably, Acura’s auto-brake completely avoided a collision in both speed tests, whereas BMW achieved a good speed reduction without indication that the collision was fully avoided.

Both vehicles had good forward collision warning mechanisms and they gathered six out of six points within this category. Headlights were a little better with Acura who achieved an “acceptable” score over BMW’s “moderate.”

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

To cement its victory, the latch category gave MDX its last win over the X3.

The model received an “acceptable” score that trumped BMW’s “moderate” showing. Common shortcomings were the positioning of the latches that seemed to be difficult to maneuver around, latches too deep in the seat, and latches requiring excessive force to utilize.

Thus, both models have areas for improvements here.

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

As it obtained a perfect grade for crashworthiness, a superior score for crash prevention, and an acceptable headlights rating, Acura MDX was selected as the Top Safety Pick Plus.

BMW was not so fortunate since its lack of small overlap test made it ineligible for any of these awards.

Interestingly, Acura had another model that was reviewed, RDX, and it received the same recognition for its very noticeable performance. Likewise, BMW X5 is amongst the many models graded but it had an even worse performance than X3.

Therefore, both manufacturers had alternatives to choose from, although the comparison outcome would have probably been the same.

Is the Acura MDX better than the BMW X3?

The title of a safer vehicle goes to Acura MDX. This model excelled over the BMW X3 in crashworthiness, headlights, and child seat anchors. It needed some work in the area of headlights and latches, but nowhere near as much work as BMW needs to do on their models.

Investigate safety ratings, costs, and insurance quotes before heading to the dealership. While certain safety ratings may not affect every driver, understanding the ins and outs of any vehicle before you buy is a smart choice.

Doing so can help you understand the cost of your future insurance premiums as well as analyze quotes when you compare them online. Enter your zip code below to begin comparing quotes right away!


  1. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/crash-testing-and-crashworthiness/topicoverview
  2. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/front-crash-prevention-tests
  3. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/LATCH-evaluation
  4. https://www.acura.com/mdx
  5. https://www.bmwusa.com/vehicles/xmodels/x3.html
  6. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/headlight-evaluation
  7. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/acura/mdx-4-door-suv/2017?print-view
  8. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/bmw/x3-4-door-suv/2017?print-view

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