Safest SUVs of 2021-2022

The IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award highlights the best crash ratings and crash prevention tech

So what's the safest SUV in America? It's an understandable question to ask, and frankly, we can't give you a clean answer. That's actually a good thing, because it's the result of so many SUVs crossing the threshold of what is considered extremely safe. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (aka the federal government) crash tests vehicles and publishes ratings based on a five-star system, the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is ultimately the agency that delivers the most thorough and comprehensive array of safety tests. 

Besides the side crash test effectively shared with NHTSA, the IIHS has subjected cars to an offset frontal crash test since the 1990s. This was directly responsible for cars being redesigned (or flat-lining in sales) after "Poor" or "Marginal" scores showed they weren't as safe as other crash tests indicated, and in the last decade-plus, it's been unheard of for any new passenger vehicle to get something other than the best-possible score of "Good." As a result of this industry-wide improvement, the IIHS has added new crash tests that similarly called out deficient designs and subsequently improved the crashworthiness of future models: the small-overlap frontal test. The Institute then turned its attention to crash prevention, applying grades to the forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems that have rapidly become expected features in new cars and SUVs. They also rate headlights, which in the early days at least, resulted in most cars getting low scores ... and then getting much better headlights in subsequent model years.

Performing sufficiently well in all of the above IIHS tests results in a new vehicle being named a Top Safety Pick+. The + basically signifies strong enough standard headlight scores, so there's even more selections that otherwise meet the crash worthiness and prevention threshold. Those get a Top Safety Pick award. You can read more about the award criteria here.

You can find the full, up-to-date list of the Top Safety Pick+ award winners here on the comprehensive IIHS website. Below is the list of 2021 and 2022 model year winners as of Oct. 16, 2021. Since then, the IIHS has introduced a new, more stringent side crash test that resulted in all compact SUVs but the Mazda CX-5 receiving lower scores in the side test. Other SUVs were not tested as of this writing. The IIHS will not be stripping awards for 2022, however. The new test's results will be applied to the award criteria starting in 2023. 

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks front in gray

The Safest Small SUVS 

Chevrolet Trailblazer: Review | Safety Features

Ford Bronco Sport: Review | Safety Features

Hyundai Tucson (2022): Review | Safety Features

Mazda CX-3: Safety Features

Mazda CX-30: Review | Safety Features

Mazda CX-5: Review | Safety Features

Mitsubishi Outlander (2022): Review | Safety Features

Nissan Rogue: Review | Safety Features

Subaru Forester: Safety Features

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro S

The Safest Midsize SUVs

Ford Explorer: Review | Safety Features

Hyundai Palisade: Review | Safety Features

Hyundai Santa Fe (2022): Safety Features

Mazda CX-9: Review | Safety Features

Nissan Murano: Safety Features

Subaru Ascent: Review | Safety Features

Toyota Highlander: Review | Safety Features

Volkswagen ID.4: Review | Safety Features

2022 Genesis GV70 at Mt St Helens

The Safest Small Luxury SUVs

Acura RDX: Safety Features

Audi Q5 and Q5 Sportback: Review | Safety Features

Genesis GV70: Review | Safety Features

Volvo XC40: Review | Safety Features

Volvo XC60: Review | Safety Features

The Safest Midsize Luxury SUVs

Acura MDX: Review | Safety Features

Audi e-Tron and e-Tron Sportback: Review | Safety Features

Cadillac XT6: Safety Features

Genesis GV80: Review | Safety Features

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class: Safety Features

Volvo XC90: Review | Safety Features

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