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If you’re looking for a midsize SUV, you may be considering either the 2021 Hyundai Palisade or the 2021 Dodge Durango. Both are capable three-row SUVs with lots to offer. So which is safer, the Hyundai Palisade or the Dodge Durango (spoiler alert: it’s the Hyundai Palisade)? Let’s compare the two. 

A maroon 2021 Hyundai Palisade against a white background.
2021 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-tested both

A red 2021 Dodge Durango drives down a road with grass on either side.
2021 Dodge Durango | Dodge

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests cars, vans, station wagons and SUVs to assess their likelihood of holding up well during a crash. They simulate a range of real-world crashes in their laboratory to try to determine a car’s performance in a variety of crashes. The tests that the IIHS does include small overlap tests for the driver and passenger side, moderate overlap tests, as well as side crash, roof strength, and head restraints and seats tests. 

The IIHS awards the safest vehicles it tests one of two awards: a Top Safety Pick and a Top Safety Pick+. The 2021 Hyundai Palisade gets a Top Safety Pick+ award, while the 2021 Dodge Durango got nothing.

To be awarded an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must score at least a good or higher in all of the IIHS crashworthy ratings. These include the driver-side small overlap front, the passenger-side small overlap front, and the moderate overlap front. In addition to these front crash tests, the vehicle must get a good or higher in the side crash tests, roof strength, and head restraint tests. 

Additionally, the vehicle must have an advanced or superior in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. Headlights, often overlooked by car shoppers, must be good or acceptable on all trim levels. Oftentimes one trim level has good headlight ratings while another trim level does not. 

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade blows away the 2021 Dodge Durango

In nearly every category, the Hyundai Palisade (or the Kia Telluride, which is structurally similar to the Palisade) does better than the Dodge Durango. In the small overlap frontal: driver side crash tests, the Hyundai Palisade got all good marks. This includes all of the subcategories as well. 

On the other hand, the Dodge Durango didn’t do well. Out of ratings that could vary from good, acceptable, marginal or poor, the Durango got a marginal overall. Additionally, he Dodge Durango received a poor rating for its structure and safety cage in this category, which means that the safety cage doesn’t hold up well when the front left side of the Durango strikes a barrier. 

While driver injury measures for the Hyundai Palisade are all good, the Dodge Durango hip/thigh is only acceptable, and the lower leg/foot is poor. The driver restraints and dummy kinematics rating is acceptable. The IIHS noted that the airbag deployed but didn’t provide enough coverage.

The moderate and side crash test ratings were similar (but the Palisade was still slightly better)

Moderate overlap and side crash test ratings were similar in both vehicles, as were side crash test ratings. The roof strength on the Durango was good, with a strength-to-weight ratio of 4.67. It was also good on the Palisade, with a strength-to-weight ratio of 4.63. 

Head restraints and seats weren’t measured in the Durango, but they received good ratings in the Palisade. Similarly, crash prevention wasn’t measured in the Dodge Durango, but all tested systems in the Hyundai Palisade received superior ratings. Child seat anchors in both the Durango and Palisade were only acceptable. 

It’s not hard to see why the 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a better choice than the 2021 Dodge Durango. With better crash test ratings – much better, in some cases, and a Top Safety Pick+ award, it’s the safer choice of the two.


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