Comparing Compact SUV Safety Ratings

 In Auto Grades, Auto Professor's Safest, Small SUV, Vehicle Safety

What is are the best compact SUV safety ratings? It is not always a direct answer, as the safest car can be different for different drivers. Different models of compact SUVs protect you better than others; actual crash data shows that this is true. We believe that using real data is far preferable to standardized tests with dummies. You and your loved ones are not dummies.

How We Define Compact SUVs

Compact SUVs have been on the market since the early eighties. They are sporty and convenient and have nice passenger and cargo space. But how do we define this class of automobile? It’s a little complicated.

A compact SUV is bigger than a mini SUV and smaller than a midsize SUV. Beyond this generalization, there is no official definition of size or dimensions or weight for this classification. Typically, a crossover is built on a car chassis, while an SUV uses a truck chassis. Within the compact SUV market, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes manufacturers have used compact or coupe passenger car bodies, so the definition is a bit blurry.

But what we consider to be the ultimate question is, how safe are they? And what is the safest compact SUV for you?


How safe a compact SUV is depends on how you are defining safety. Compared to other rating systems, The Auto Professor gives auto safety ratings based on actual, real-life crash data, not standardized tests that use dummies. We look at drivers who wore seat belts in the worst crashes. We look at actual data on who walked away and who didn’t.

As you can read in an Overview of Auto Grades—where you will learn more about Auto Grades, why we need them and how they are different from other star rating systems—all vehicles get an Overall Auto Grade safety rating. If the vehicle is very popular and there are lots and lots of these vehicles on the road, then we are likely to have lots and lots of data. When this happens, we can then personalize the car’s Auto Grade for drivers by age and gender. In these cases, you get a safety rating based on who you—and your loved ones—really are. Not a theoretical person. Real people. Real information.


We understand that buying an affordable, safe car is often more important than color and stripes and other considerations. As the list below shows, there are many safe compact SUVs from which to choose. We are often asked, “what is the best?” The list below gives the compact SUVs for model years 2018, 2019 and 2020 that get an overall A or A-. In other words, based on our data analysis, we think that these are the top tier, safe compact SUVs. If you are thinking about a different vehicle, feel free to do your own search using the Auto Grade search bar below.

Vehicle 2018 2019 2020
Acura RDX
Infiniti QX50
Jeep Cherokee
Mercedes GLC
Volkswagen Tiguan Limited


What is a compact SUV?

A compact SUV is bigger than a mini SUV and smaller than a midsize SUV. Manufacturers have not been more specific in their definition of this class. They haven’t used a specific weight or dimension. Sometimes it is built on a compact car frame, and sometimes on a small truck frame.

What is the best compact SUV crash rating?

With The Auto Professor’s Auto Grades, an A or A- is a top rating. When there is enough data, there can also be safety ratings by the age and gender of the driver. If a vehicle gets this rating for all ages and genders, then they are on the Honor Roll – the best of the best! For the compact SUVs shown on this page, there were not enough real-life crashes for them to be on the Honor Roll.

How do you compare compact SUV safety ratings?

Auto Grades from The Auto Professor make it super easy to compare SUVs by their safety ratings. It’s like the grades you got back in school: Go for the A! If you’d like to know more about our safety ratings, check out this page.

What is the safest compact SUV of 2020?

We are often asked, “what is the safest compact SUV?” As the table above shows, there are many safe compact SUVs from which to choose. These are the compact SUVs in years 2018, 2019 and 2020 that get an Auto Grade of A or A- overall. So, based on our data analysis, these are the top tier, safest compact SUVs. If you are thinking about a different vehicle model or year, try out your own search using the free search bar below.


Want to find the safety rating of other compact SUVs? We are here for you. Try out the simple search bar below. First we give the car an overall Auto Grade. Then, if there is lots of data available on that car, you will get the option to see a personal Auto Grade. If you want to see how this is done, then please watch this video.

Working together to create a world where everyone walks away from a crash.