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Every year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety puts passenger vehicles through a slew of crash tests with increasingly strict standards. IIHS recently released its overall findings for the new midsize SUV side crash tests, and we’ll be honest, we were surprised by a few of the results.

But thankfully, the midsize SUVs performed a heck of a lot better than the small SUVs.

IIHS implemented this test last October because it found that while a driver of a vehicle with Good ratings in the original test was 70% less likely to die in a left-side crash, side impacts still accounted for 23% of passenger vehicle deaths in 2020. This new crash produces 82% more energy, and in order to get a top score, the vehicle’s occupant compartment must hold its shape during the crash, and dummies must not indicate a high risk of severe injury.

If you carry around passengers regularly, you’ll want to keep reading for the safest midsize SUVs on the market in 2022.

Mazda CX-9, VW ID.4 win

There are only two out of 18 midsize SUVs that manage to get Good ratings across the board, and one of those is later in its life cycle. The three-row Mazda CX-9 was last redesigned in 2016, and yet it manages to get top marks in this new test. The Volkswagen ID.4, however, not only came out as a 2021 model but also is an electric vehicle – in fact, the only electric vehicle on this midsize list at all.

VW also has a good showing with the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, which get Good overall ratings but Marginal scores in the driver’s pelvis injury arena.

Honda shocker

Honda automobiles are perennially considered some of the most reliable and safe vehicles on the market. Yet the Pilot/Passport duo comes back with just a marginal overall rating. Both vehicles got dings for the safety structure of the vehicle, pelvis injuries for the driver and torso injuries for the rear passenger.

Two other surprising vehicles that got marginal ratings: The Hyundai Palisade and the Kia Telluride. The big ding here: Both vehicles get a Poor rating for driver pelvis injuries.

Nissan Murano is dead last

The Nissan Murano is the oldest SUV in the bunch, having last been redesigned in 2014. So, we’ll be honest, this marginal rating doesn’t surprise us. When this vehicle first came out, we loved it – and the Zero Gravity seats are phenomenally comfortable. But it’s almost like Nissan has put this SUV out to pasture with minimal updates. The biggest ding here: It gets a Poor rating in the safety structure arena.

We actually put the Murano on our watch list because we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s discontinued soon. This poor showing in the IIHS side crash test might just be the final nail in the coffin.

What does a Poor rating mean?

When a vehicle gets a Poor rating, it means there is a significant risk of injury. In the case of the Jeep Wrangler, its poor rating on the rear head protection is due to the lack of rear side airbags – and the injury was so grievous it got an overall Marginal rating though every other test got top marks. Specifically, the rear-seat dummy in crash tests hit its head on the vertical support of the vehicle’s removable roof and the window frame of the rear door.

The bottom line on midsize SUV side crash tests

People often buy midsize SUVs to be family haulers. So, it stands to reason that you’d want it to be safe. These tests not only help people choose the best vehicles for their families but also force automakers to make safer cars.

Thank you, IIHS.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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