Top Safest SUVs of 2021

In any vehicle classification that is focused on hauling people, and specifically children, safety is paramount - this is why it helps to know which are the safest SUVs available in the USA. More is needed than just offering a plush ride, and even luxury and comforts come second. These vehicles need to have impeccable crash test ratings, ideally from both the NHTSA and IIHS. This includes taking a close look at the headlights and standard advanced driver-assist features. The very best and safest SUVs might even earn a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, which is a clear signifier of quality.

List of the Top Safest SUVs for 2021

If you are looking for an SUV with the best safety ratings, here are some names you are probably familiar with:

BuzzScore
Design
Performance
MPG
Interior
Infotainment
Reliability
Safety
Value
#1
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe
9.1
BuzzScore
9
Design
8
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
10
Infotainment
9
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#2
2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
9.1
BuzzScore
9
Design
9
Performance
9
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
10
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#3
2021 Lincoln Navigator
9
BuzzScore
9
Design
9
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
8
Infotainment
9
Reliability
9
Safety
10
Value
#4
2021 Lincoln Navigator L
9
BuzzScore
9
Design
9
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
8
Infotainment
9
Reliability
9
Safety
10
Value
#5
2021 Volvo XC90
8.9
BuzzScore
9
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
10
Infotainment
7
Reliability
10
Safety
10
Value
#6
2021 Mazda CX-5
8.8
BuzzScore
9
Design
9
Performance
7
MPG
9
Interior
8
Infotainment
8
Reliability
10
Safety
10
Value
#7
2021 BMW X3
#7
BMW X3
8.8
BuzzScore
8
Design
9
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
10
Safety
8
Value
#8
2021 Tesla Model X
8.8
BuzzScore
6
Design
10
Performance
10
MPG
8
Interior
10
Infotainment
7
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#9
2021 Audi RS Q8
8.8
BuzzScore
10
Design
10
Performance
6
MPG
10
Interior
10
Infotainment
7
Reliability
9
Safety
8
Value
#10
2021 Subaru Forester
8.6
BuzzScore
7
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
8
Infotainment
10
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#11
2021 Toyota RAV4
8.6
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
10
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#12
2021 Chevrolet Traverse
8.6
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
9
Reliability
9
Safety
9
Value
#13
2022 Toyota Highlander
8.6
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
9
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
10
Reliability
10
Safety
8
Value
#14
2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
8.6
BuzzScore
10
Design
10
Performance
5
MPG
10
Interior
10
Infotainment
8
Reliability
8
Safety
8
Value
#15
2021 Ford Expedition
8.5
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
9
Interior
10
Infotainment
9
Reliability
10
Safety
7
Value
#16
2021 Ford Expedition Max
8.5
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
8
MPG
9
Interior
10
Infotainment
9
Reliability
10
Safety
7
Value
#17
2021 Subaru Crosstrek
8.4
BuzzScore
7
Design
8
Performance
8
MPG
8
Interior
8
Infotainment
9
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#18
2021 Audi SQ7
#18
Audi SQ7
8.4
BuzzScore
8
Design
9
Performance
7
MPG
9
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
9
Safety
8
Value
#19
2021 Volkswagen Atlas
8.3
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
7
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
9
Safety
8
Value
#20
2021 Ford Explorer
8.3
BuzzScore
7
Design
9
Performance
7
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
10
Safety
8
Value

What Characterizes the Safest Crossovers and SUVs?

While many vehicles may fall into the classification of the safest crossovers SUVs, not all are created equal. Here are some of the common features you can expect to find in an SUV with a top safety rating:

  • All the passives: No car can claim to be truly safe without including all the common passive safety features. These include well-designed crumple zones, seatbelts for every passenger, anti-lock brakes, and a full complement of airbags.
  • Forward collision avoidance: This is relatively standard on every one of the safest sport utility vehicles. The most common components include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Pedestrian detection and reverse braking are becoming more popular options and we may see more cars in 2022 including both as standard.
  • Cameras, Monitors, Sensors: Every vehicle in the USA must include at least a rearview camera, but few automakers stop there. Blind-spot monitoring is quite common, too, and many upper-tier trims include rear cross-traffic alert. Front and rear parking sensors, as well as a surround-view or top-down camera, are often included on the top model in most lineups.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Though technically not a safety feature, adaptive cruise control can help take the strain off driving and help you stay alert for longer. Currently, auto-cruising can adjust speed and sometimes make minor maneuvers with the assistance and lane-keep assist and other systems, but future vehicles may be able to drive themselves completely. Other tech under this banner includes parking assistance, traffic sign recognition, and even driver attention monitoring, to name just a few.

Why You Should Consider Buying a Safe SUV

Well, this is a pretty easy question to answer: the safest SUVs and crossover models will ensure you and your precious cargo arrive at your destination unharmed. Not only should these cars be strong and protect occupants in the event of a collision, but they should help prevent these to begin with. Some things to consider when it comes to buying a safe SUV:

Pros

  • High reliability expectations
  • Ideal for families
  • Loads of driver assists make them easy to drive
  • Many options to choose from - small, midsize, and large
  • Luxurious and comfortable

Cons

  • Tons of features can make a large vehicle obscenely heavy
  • Prices can get out of hand quickly
  • Too much tech can get confusing or overwhelming

FAQs

Which SUV is safest in a crash?

As these cars are supposed to carry your family around, they are generally well-equipped with safety features, but some are better specced than others. The following have scored most highly in safety reviews:

  • Buick Enclave
  • Kia Sorento
  • Volvo XC60
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Honda CR-V
  • Ford Expedition.

What SUV has a 5-star safety rating?

Across the various classifications, quite a few models have managed to impress the NHTSA to the point that they were awarded a 5-star rating. The top safest SUVs include:

  • Ford Explorer
  • Cadillac XT6
  • Mazda CX-3, CX-5, CX-9 and CX-30
  • Audi e-tron
  • Hyundai Palisade
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

What SUVs are the most dangerous?

SUVs, in general, offer large crumple zones and the basics in safety tech, at the very least. Mid-tier and top-end models tend to have the most advanced features as standard, so always check what’s included in your specification or add on some options, where possible. The biggest risk when driving a high-rider is that of tipping over, usually when taking a corner too fast. Be sure to check out the NHTSA safety ratings and pay particular attention to rollover scores.

Are SUVs safer than cars?

The answer to this question is not straightforward. Many people assume that due to size and weight, SUVs are automatically safer. But it really depends on many things, including the number of safety features and driver assists which your vehicle is fitted with, the construction of the vehicle itself, and the type of accident you’re involved in.

Will an SUV protect my children in an accident?

Naturally the idea is to protect all passengers on board, but children are particularly susceptible to injury and even ejection from the vehicle. All the driver assists and safety features in the world cannot protect children that are incorrectly transported - make sure infants, toddlers, and children under 12 are securely strapped into the correct car seat for their age/weight. All passengers should wear seatbelts all of the time.
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