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Safest SUVs in America

© Hyundai Motor America., © American Honda Motor Co., © Mercedes-Benz USA., © Subaru of AmericaIIHS Top Safety Pick+
Sport-utility vehicles and crossovers are some of the most popular vehicles in America, and safety is a big concern for shoppers when considering a new vehicle. Every new car sold in America must meet standards mandated by Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301, for motor vehicle safety. While airbags, seat belts and crumple zones keep occupants safe in a crash, technologies available in some new cars work to prevent the crash itself. Those systems vary among automakers — some use radar, others use cameras — but the goal is lessening or avoiding impacts without the need for driver input. For a vehicle to be named a Top Safety Pick + by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it must earn Good ratings (Good is the highest IIHS rating) in driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. The vehicle must also earn an Advanced or Superior rating for front crash prevention, as well as a Good headlight rating.

© IIHSNew Requirement
Last year the IIHS added an additional requirement for vehicles to gain distinction as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. Vehicles must achieve a Good or Acceptable rating for passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes. This is the first time that passenger-side crash test results have ever been a factor in an IIHS award, and the new requirement has resulted in a list of 17 SUVs and crossovers as Top Safety Pick + winners. “Drivers expect that their passengers, who are often family, will be protected just as well as they are,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund. “Manufacturers have been taking this issue seriously since we first shed light on it, and we’re confident that good small overlap protection will become the norm on the passenger side, just as it has on the driver side,” Lund noted. We fully expect this list to grow as manufacturers adjust their vehicles to meet these new requirements. Here, in alphabetical order, are the SUVs that achieve the elite IIHS rank of Top Safety Pick +, shown with their front crash prevention rating and points earned out of six possible.

© American Honda Motor Co.2019 Acura RDX
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
All new for the 2019 model year, the Acura RDX returns to this elite group of safest vehicles in America. The previous-generation RDX earned the rank of TSP+ for 2016 and 2017, but the compact crossover didn’t meet the headlight requirement for 2018. The new model gets the highest rating for every IIHS test, thanks in part to the newest generation of Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, new high-strength steel door stiffener rings and eight airbags, including new driver and front-passenger knee airbags. The RDX also features the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver-assist technologies, including automatic emergency braking and road departure mitigation. New LED headlights are also standard.

© BMW USA2019 BMW X3
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
The BMW X3 was all new for the 2018 model year and now earns the TSP+ ranking for the second year in a row. The new model stands out with more aerodynamic styling, a “three-dimensional” kidney grille, available full LED headlights and a roof spoiler at the rear. The X3 achieves the highest ratings — avoiding a collision in all three IIHS collision avoidance tests —when equipped with BMW’s optional Driving Assistance Plus package. This includes frontal collision warning with collision mitigation, active lane-keeping assist and blind spot detection.

© BMW of North America2019 BMW X5
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
BMW introduced the fourth-generation X5 for the 2019 model year, and in addition to updated styling, new features and a roomier interior, the new model gets safety advances to put it back on this Top Safety Pick + list. The standard Active Driving Assistant includes the latest high-tech safety features such as blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, rear collision warning, cross-traffic alert and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2019 Hyundai Kona
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
The Kona is an all-new compact crossover from Hyundai with unique styling, a spacious interior and it’s offered with the latest in high-tech convenience and safety features. The bright LED headlights are available on Kona Limited and Ultimate trims, as is advanced active safety equipment that includes forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, high-beam assist and driver attention warning. Blind-spot collision warning and a rear cross-traffic alert system are also available.

© Hyundai Motor America2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
Hyundai introduces an all-new Santa Fe for the 2019 model year with updated styling and a range of new features. The Santa Fe replaces the Santa Fe Sport as the Korean brand’s 5-passenger offering, while a new Santa Fe XL will offer three rows of seating (the Santa Fe XL did not earn a Top Safety Pick + rating, achieving an Average score for the passenger-side small overlap test). This fourth-generation Hyundai SUV comes with the latest high-tech safety items as standard equipment, including automatic emergency braking and blind-spot collision warning, as well as lane-keeping and rear cross-traffic alert. Also standard is safe exit assist, which locks the rear doors to prevent rear-seat occupants from opening them into traffic when vehicles are approaching from behind.

© Hyundai Motor America2019 Hyundai Tucson
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
Hyundai introduced an all-new Tucson for 2019 that now features a cascading grille similar to the new Santa Fe, a new headlight design with LED daytime running lights, a new rear fascia, redesigned taillights and new wheels. Outfitted with the latest in high-tech occupant protection, Tucson’s standard safety features include forward collision-avoidance assist and lane-keeping assist. Additional available safety and technology features include forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, high-beam assist, rain-sensing wipers, a surround view monitor, smart cruise control with stop-and-go, and driver attention warning.

© Kia Motors America2019 Kia Niro (hybrid and PHEV)
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
Niro is the first dedicated hybrid model to come from Kia —now available as a standard hybrid or plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle. As a crossover, the Niro smartly goes after the heart of the U.S. car market; but as a hybrid, Kia sees the Niro going after the leader: the Toyota Prius. In addition to its very fuel-efficient powertrain, the Niro is available with the latest in advanced safety features, including a forward collision warning system and autonomous emergency braking, as well as high-intensity discharge headlights. The Niro has been ranked a Top Safety Pick + since it was introduced last year.

© Kia Motors America2019 Kia Sorento
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
Kia introduces an all-new Sorento for the 2019 model year, and for the first time this 7-passenger SUV has earned the top safety rating from the IIHS. In addition to its updated styling and more upscale interior, the Sorento is now available with an array of high-tech advanced safety features. The Sorento’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems includes forward-collision warning system, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision warning and lane-keeping assist.

© Kia Motor America2020 Kia Soul
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
The Kia Soul is entering its third generation with the introduction of a completely new 2020 model, featuring all-new styling and an array of new features. Even as the Soul retains its iconic shape, it gets a modern look with slim headlights, LED daytime running lights and boomerang-shaped taillights that frame the rear window. Available in multiple trim levels, the Soul is available with advanced safety features that include forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, lane-change assist, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

© Mazda North American Operations2019 Mazda CX-5
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (5 points)
Mazda’s popular CX-5 crossover has been on the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ list since 2014, and the redesigned 2017 model continued this success. CX-5 is available with advanced safety features that include lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist and smart brake assist — the latter of which warns the driver and automatically applies the brakes to avoid or minimize damage from a frontal collision. These items are part of an i-ACTIVSENSE package that also includes high-beam control, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
All new in 2016 when it replaced the outgoing GLK, the GLC is the compact luxury crossover offering in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. With a structure consisting of aluminum and high-strength steel, the GLC received the top Good rating in all the IIHS crash tests. The GLC can also be equipped with Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which uses radar-based technology to detect impending collisions and not only warn the driver but automatically apply braking to avoid the collision. Also featuring LED projector headlights, the GLC earns the Top Safety Pick + rating for the third year in a row.

© Mercedes-Benz USA2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
as the midsize SUV in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, the GLE was completely updated for the 2016 model year. (Note that this model was previously called M-Class and had been an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ winner since 2012.) Equipped with all the luxury features expected of a Mercedes, the GLE comes standard with Collision Prevention Assist, which uses radar to monitor the distance to a vehicle in front and will alert the drive while priming the brake if a crash seems imminent. Also available is Collision Prevention Assist Plus with active brake assist, which will automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2019 Subaru Ascent
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
Subaru has returned to the 3-row crossover market with its largest production vehicle yet — the all-new Ascent. Built on the company’s new platform, Ascent is available in a number of trim levels, all of which come standard with full-time all-wheel drive and Subaru’s suite of safety features called EyeSight. The safety suite includes automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and sway warning. The Ascent is also available with blind-spot detection, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking.

© Subaru of America2019 Subaru Crosstrek
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
The Crosstrek was all new for the 2018 model year, built on a global platform first introduced a year previously in the Subaru Impreza. This is the first major redesign of the popular crossover and features updated styling which includes a sculpted hood, larger fender flares, matte-black cladding and an impressive 8.7-inches of ground clearance. The Crosstrek is also available with the latest version of Eye Sight, Subaru’s innovative driver-assistance system that utilizes stereo forward-facing cameras as well as other sensors. With EyeSight, the Crosstrek is available with automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert. Crosstrek also offers reverse automatic braking, which stops the car if an obstacle is detected in the car’s path while backing up.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2019 Subaru Forester
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
The 2019 Forester is all new, featuring the roomiest interior offered with a 1.2-inch-longer wheelbase, more rear-seat legroom and more cargo capacity, as well as improvements in crash protection, comfort, quietness and driving dynamics. EyeSight driver-assist technology is standard, and Forester Touring debuts DriverFocus safety technology that can alert the driver of fatigue or distraction as well as automatically adjust many driver settings at startup. The new Forester is powered by an updated direct-injection 2.5-liter Boxer engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The 2019 Forester also features improved headlights, which help elevate it to the rank of Top Safety Pick + once again.

© Subaru of America2019 Subaru Outback
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
There aren’t many wagons available in America, but the Subaru Outback with its perfect score from the IIHS is arguably the safest wagon on the market. Like other Subarus on this list, the Outback can be equipped with adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, Pre-collision braking and pre-collision throttle management — all part of the innovative Eyesight system. These systems can make driving less stressful as well as much safer, and earn the Outback a place on the Top Safety Pick + list for the seventh year in a row.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2019 Volvo XC40
Front Crash Prevention: Superior (6 points)
The first compact crossover from Volvo, the XC40 was introduced last year as a 2019 model. With styling similar to the XC60 and XC90, the XC40 is the only Volvo named a Top Safety Pick +, primarily due to the current headlight requirements. No other auto brand has become as synonymous with safety as Volvo, so it’s no surprise that the new XC40 is well equipped with the latest safety technology. Standard on all XC40 trims is City Safety, which features collision avoidance that detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and animals and can automatically apply brakes as needed. Also standard are run-off road protection and run-off road mitigation, lane keeping and oncoming lane mitigation, and a whiplash protection system for front seats. A blind-spot information system and cross-traffic alert are available as additional options.

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Published on: June 26, 2019

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