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If you’re in the market for a new midsize luxury SUV, you’ve probably considered both the 2021 Lexus RX and the 2021 BMW X5. So which is safer, the Lexus RX or the BMW X5? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash-tested them both. They each got great ratings, but only one is a Top Safety Pick award. 

The front of a white 2021 BMW X5 at night.
2021 BMW X5 | BMW

What is an IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ award?

A silver 2021 Lexus RX against a white background.
2021 Lexus RX | Lexus

An IIHS Top Safety Pick award is given to a vehicle with good ratings in all of the IIHS crash tests. These tests 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 score in the side crash tests, roof strength, and head restraint tests. 

Additionally, any Top Safety Pick must have an advanced or superior in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. Available headlights must have a good or acceptable rating. 

How crashworthy are the 2021 Lexus RX and 2021 BMW X5?

The 2021 Lexus RX and 2021 BMW X5 both got a good small overlap front: driver-side score. Within this category are subcategories, including structure and safety cage, driver injury measures, and driver restraints and dummy kinematics. Overlap tests measure how well a vehicle does when part of the front hits a barrier. Additionally, the small overlap front: passenger-side category and subcategories were all good for both. So were the moderate overlap front subcategory results. 

Side crash test ratings were also all good. These subcategories contain similar elements to the front crash tests: overall, structure and safety cage, driver injury measures. There’s also driver head protection and rear passenger injury measures, as well as rear passenger head protection. 

The roof test, head restraints and seats in the 2021 Lexus RX and 2021 BMW X5 all got good scores including overall, dynamic rating and seat/head restraint geometry. A strong roof keeps SUV occupants safe in the event of a rollover. Additionally, head restraints and seat ratings are important because neck injuries and whiplash are common car accident injuries. 

How are the crash prevention systems in the RX and X5?

Both crash prevention systems in the 2021 Lexus RX and 2021 BMW X5 were superior. Crash prevention systems keep vehicles from getting into accidents in the first place (and finding out just how safe their SUV is). 

However, neither the 2021 Lexus RX and the 2021 BMW X5 had good headlights. Headlights are important because you need to be able to see the road. This is especially important to avoid accidents at night. The headlights in various Lexus trim levels range from poor to acceptable. Even worse, the headlights for some of the 2021 BMW X5 trim levels were poor. 

Overall, which is safer, the Lexus RX or BMW X5? If you’re looking for a midsize luxury SUV that the IIHS finds crashworthy, both the 2021 Lexus RX and 2021 BMW X5 have good crash test results. The headlines make a difference, so shop carefully. 


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