Safest SUVs

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) is out with its list of Top Safety Picks for 2010. The big change in this years list was that the IIHS included rollover crash testing in its evaluations. This is an important safety consideration, as according to the IIS, more than 9,000 people die each year in rollover accidents. Protection for driver, front passenger and rear passengers involved in front, side, and rear collisions were the other components of the testing. All vehicles tested must have electronic stability control.

For 2010, twenty SUV models have made the list. While European automakers have historically been the standard bearers for safe vehicles and safety innovations, this year’s list of SUV winners includes automakers from five different countries: Hyundai, Japan, Sweden, United States, and Germany.

Subaru was a big winner on this year’s list. The Japanese automaker continues to build on its reputation for safety. Despite only ranking 11th in U.S. auto brand sales in July, it had vehicles in the small size SUV, midsize SUV, midsize car, and small car list. It was the only automaker to be a top safety pick in every vehicle class in which it competes. All Subaru models come standard with all-wheel drive. Their vehicles earned five star safety readings.

Small size SUVS making the top safety list for 2010 were: the Honda Element, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot (with optional side torso airbags), Subaru Forester, and Volkswagen Tiguan.

In the midsize class, the Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX (built after May 2010), Chevrolet Equinox (built after March 2010), Dodge Journey, Ford Flex (built after January 2010), GMC Terrain (built after March 2010), 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2011 Kia Sorrento (built after March 2010), Lexus RX, Lincoln MKT (built after March 2010), Subaru Tribeca, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Venza, 2010 and 2011 Volvo XC60, and 2010 and 2011 Volvo XC90 made the top safety pick list.

Safety is an important factor when choosing a new SUV. These crash studies are performed by the IIHS, which is wholly funded by auto insurance companies. Safety ratings have an impact on car insurance rates.

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