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These Are The Safest Crossover SUVs For 2022

Though the domestic full-size pickup trucks sell in greater numbers per model, crossover SUVs have become the dominant mode of transportation in the U.S. among singles, families, and empty nesters alike. Their tall and boxy designs enable SUVs to offer more passenger room and cargo space than same-size sedans, with a taller ride height that affords a commanding view of the road. Because they’re built on car-like underpinnings, crossover models ride and handle as well as many passenger cars.

Since crossovers, especially seven-passenger models, are especially popular among growing families, it’s especially important to choose an SUV that protects its passengers in a collision with a minimal chance of serious injuries, and comes with high-tech safety gear that can prevent drivers from getting into crashes in the first place.

While inventory shortages have thrown a proverbial money wrench into the new-car business the last few months, the good news is it’s never been easier to choose a safer SUV. That’s according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which just issued its list of the safest rides on the road for the 2022 model year, based upon its extensive crash-testing program.

This year’s crop of SUVs is the best ever with regards to safety, with 34 small, midsize, and luxury crossovers earning the IIHS’ “Top Safety Pick+” honors, and another 20 coming close by earning “Top Safety Pick” (without the Plus) status. This year, several full electric models, including the Volkswagen ID.4, Audi e-tron, and the Tesla Model Y are represented on the TSP+ list. And that’s despite the Institute upping the proverbial ante in recent years by requiring stricter criteria for a given model to achieve either status.

We’re highlighting the 2022 Top Safety Pick+ award winners below. We’ll provide the IIHS’ top-rated passenger cars and minivans in a separate post.

To achieve Top Safety Pick status, a given model must receive good marks in all of the IIHS’ crashworthiness tests. These include front and side-impact crash tests, and both driver- and passenger-side small overlap frontal crash tests that replicate hitting a tree or light pole.

Each model further earns a “superior” or “advanced” designation for its standard or optional forward emergency automatic braking system. Superior-rated systems can automatically apply the brakes if necessary to avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in two tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph. An advance-rated model must be able to avoid a collision in one of the two tests. 

In order to get the coveted “Plus” designation, a vehicle must further offer good or acceptable-rated headlights as standard equipment (non-plus models have to at least offer them as optional equipment somewhere within the model line). Illuminating the road ahead is an often overlooked, but critical element of vehicle safety, as about half of traffic deaths occur in the dark, and a quarter of them on unlit roads. Many poor-rated systems don’t provide enough illumination to enable a driver going 55 mph on a straight road to stop in time after spotting an obstacle in the vehicle’s path. 

Take note that the IIHS tends to concentrates its testing efforts on the industry’s best-selling vehicles, which tends leave out low volume luxury vehicles and sports cars at the upper end of the price spectrum. What’s more, some new or fully redesigned vehicles may not have yet been put though their paces; ratings are updated on an ongoing basis. Log onto the IIHS website for full results and other details.

Also, given the laws of physics, frontal crash-test results can only be accurately compared among same-size vehicle. This means a top-rated compact car will not necessarily offer the same level of occupant protection as a larger sedan or SUV in a given collision. Side-impact tests, on the other hand, can be readily compared across vehicle size and weight classifications due to the manner in which they are conducted.

Here are the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rated SUVs for 2022:

Small SUVs

  • Chevrolet Trailblazer
  • Ford Bronco Sport
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mazda CX-30
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (built after June 2021)
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Volvo C40 Recharge
  • Volvo XC40
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge

Midsize SUVs

  • Ford Explorer
  • Hyundai Palisade
  • Hyundai Santa Fe (built after July 2021)
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Nissan Murano
  • Subaru Ascent
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Volkswagen ID.4

Midsize Luxury SUVs

  • Acura MDX
  • Acura RDX
  • Audi Q5
  • Audi Q5 Sportback
  • Cadillac XT6
  • Genesis GV70
  • Genesis GV80
  • Hyundai Nexo
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (with optional front crash protection)
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Volvo XC60
  • Volvo XC 60 Recharge
  • Volvo XC90
  • Volvo XC90 Recharge

Large SUVs

  • Audi e-tron
  • Audi e-tron Sportback
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