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Luxury cars from marques like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus are synonymous with opulence, refinement, and elegance. However, based on the latest accident death-rate data, these midsize and large luxury vehicles could be some of the most significant safety credentials to boast. So, how much safer are posh rides like the BMW X3 and Lexus ES 350 than their less-plush counterparts in other segments?

Are luxury cars safer?

A BMW X3 luxury SUV drifts in the dirt.
BMW X3 | Dasril Roszandi, NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released data containing death rates per vehicle model, and the results were clear: luxury cars held the top spots among the safest vehicles. BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Audi models were among the top 10 least lethal vehicles. 

According to the IIHS, the BMW X3 holds the top spot with an estimated death rate of 0 per million registered vehicles. The X3 isn’t alone either; the Lexus ES 350, a midsize luxury car, also has a death rate of 0. 

What are the safest luxury cars?

A silver 2007 Lexus ES 350 shows off its side profile.
A Lexus ES 350 | Mark Elias, Bloomberg via Getty Images

The BMW X3, Lexus ES 350, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class snagged the top spots on the list of luxury cars with the fewest fatalities in collisions. 

Luxury make and model (2018 through 2021)Vehicle typeDeath rate
BMW X3Midsize luxury SUV0
Lexus ES 350Midsize luxury sedan0
Mercedes-Benz E-ClassLarge luxury sedan0
Audi Q5Midsize luxury SUV2
Volvo XC90Midsize luxury SUV4
Lexus RX 350Midsize luxury SUV5
Volvo XC60Midsize luxury SUV5
Acura MDXMidsize luxury SUV6
Acura RDXMidsize luxury SUV6
BMW X5Midsize luxury SUV6
Lexus NX 300Midsize luxury SUV6
Porsche TaycanMidsize luxury SUV6

Still, the IIHS reports that some of these models have higher rates of other-driver deaths or fatalities in other vehicles. For instance, the Audi Q5, a midsize luxury SUV, has an other-driver death rate of 21, over 10 times its same-vehicle rate. Furthermore, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, a popular model in the marque’s recent offerings, has an other-driver rate of 10 per million registered vehicles. 

Which cars are more dangerous than luxury cars?

According to the latest data from the IIHS, muscle cars are one of the most fatality-prone vehicle segments. For instance, the popular Dodge Challenger and four-door muscle sedan Dodge Charger models took top spots in both the same-vehicle death and other-driver death rates. 

Make and modelDeath rate per million
Mitsubishi Mirage G4 (Sedan)205
Mitsubishi Mirage (Hatchback)183
Dodge Challenger154
Hyundai Accent152
Chevrolet Spark151

However, it’s not just muscle cars. “Minicars,” or subcompact sedans and hatchbacks, had an alarming number of same-vehicle fatalities. Furthermore, comparing the death rate of vehicles like the Mitsubishi Mirage and much larger vehicles like the RAM 3500 reveals that even with modern safety technology at play, mass can play a substantial role in the outcome of a vehicle-versus-vehicle collision. 

What do you think of the latest safety data on road fatalities? Share your thoughts in the comments below!