Sport-utility and crossover vehicles don’t rely just on their large dimensions to guarantee safety for driver and passengers. These people movers offer much of the same safety equipment that is installed in passenger cars in order to provide an extra level of security out on the road.
Each year, the top safety performers on the SUV and crossover market are awarded with Top Safety Pick status by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Let’s take a look at 10 crossovers and SUVs that have earned this select honor.
Photos courtesy of respective manufacturers
The 2011 Cadillac SRX straddles the line between mid-size sport-utility vehicle and tall-roofed wagon. It earned a “Good” rating in frontal offset and side impact crash tests performed by the IIHS, in addition to a “Good” rating in roof crush resistance testing. Passengers are protected by six standard airbag, including front dual-stage airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags that protect the heads of occupants along both sides of the automobile.
The Cadillac SRX also comes with StabiliTrak electronic stability control, available all-wheel drive with an electronic limited-slip differential and automatic crash response through the OnStar telematics service.02. 2011 Chevrolet Equinox
The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is a compact crossover that offers a score of “Good” on IIHS side impact, frontal offset and rollover roof strength testing. In addition to standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control and traction control and the option of grip-enhancing all-wheel drive, the Chevrolet Equinox offers a brake assist feature for its anti-lock braking system. It is also possible to add a rearview camera and parking sensors to the mix of safety gear installed in the crossover.
In terms of protective features inside the vehicle’s cabin, the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox provides two forward airbags, two front seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags that deploy along the length of the passenger compartment. The vehicle also comes with GM’s OnStar system, which offers the ability to automatically respond to a crash situation and even notify emergency personnel without the need for driver intervention.03. 2011 Audi Q5
The 2011 Audi Q5 is an entry-level luxury crossover that has been designed by the German brand to offer not just comfort but also solid on-the-road safety. The vehicle’s front dual-stage airbags and seat-mounted thorax airbags do a good job of protecting occupants riding in the forward area of the crossover, while its Sideguard head curtain airbags that expand along the full length of the crossover keep all passengers safe in the event of a serious accident or rollover. Seat-mounted side airbags can also be ordered as an option for rear passengers.
When taken together with its Electronic Stabilization Control with rollover mitigation technology and its available quattro all-wheel drive, the 2011 Audi Q5 boasts a score of “Good” in frontal offset, side impact and roof strength crash testing.04. 2011 Volvo XC90
The 2011 Volvo XC90 is a full-size premium crossover that trades on Volvo’s reputation for building advanced safety systems into all of its automobiles. The XC90 comes loaded with front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags as well as side curtain airbags. Its strengthened chassis also helped it to score a “Good” rating in IIHS crash testing in each of the three important categories.
Also present and accounted for in the 2011 Volvo XC90 are Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, an available Blind Spot Information System, Roll Stability Control and optional Active Bending Lights that shine the vehicle’s HID headlights around a corner in concert with the steering wheel position. All-wheel drive is also standard on the XC90.05. 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has seen substantial safety designed into its fresh platform. The Grand Cherokee offers standard front airbags, standard supplemental side curtain airbags, seat-mounted pelvic and thorax airbags for forward occupants and a special safety cage – all of which combine to help give the sport-utility vehicle a rating of “Good” in IIHS crash testing (frontal offset impact, side impact and rollover strength).
The Jeep Grand Cherokee also offers available crash avoidance features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning, a Blind Spot Monitoring System and Rear Cross-Path Detection. Electronic Stability Control is standard, and four-wheel drive can be installed as an option to improve the SUV’s traction.06. 2011 Lexus RX 350
The 2011 Lexus RX is one of the luxury brand’s best-selling – and safest – automobiles. The mid-size crossover achieves a “Good” crash test rating in all three critical IIHS categories thanks to its complement of 10 airbags: dual-stage front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted airbags, side curtain airbags and knee airbags for both the driver and front passenger.
The Lexus RX also features technologies such as Vehicle Stability Control and available advanced Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, a Pre-Collision System that can prime the vehicle’s safety systems should an accident be deemed unavoidable and the Safety Connect system that can put RX occupants in touch with emergency services. All-wheel drive is also available.07. 2011 Ford Flex
The 2011 Ford Flex is a full-size crossover vehicle that offers a “Good” rating from the IIHS in side impact crash testing, frontal offset crash testing and roof crush resistance testing. The Flex offers six standard airbags (four up front, plus side curtain airbags that deploy the length of the entire passenger compartment) as well as AdvanceTrac traction and stability control that is paired with Roll Stability Control to help keep the tall crossover on the straight and narrow.
Other safety features offered on the 2011 Flex include anti-lock brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system and an available rearview camera. All-wheel drive can also be ordered on certain editions of the Flex to help promote traction and stability in all sorts of weather and driving conditions.08. 2011 Toyota Highlander
The 2011 Toyota Highlander mid-size crossover features Toyota’s Star Safety System. This suite of protective systems and equipment includes Enhances Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management is provided free of charge to tie all of the electronic driving aides together, and the Highlander also comes with Smart Stop, a feature that cuts engine power should the accelerator and the brake pedal be depressed at the same time.
The 2011 Toyota Highlander also earns its “Good” rating in the three important IIHS crash test categories thanks to its side curtain airbags, advanced front airbags and seat-mounted side airbags for forward occupants. A driver’s knee airbag is also standard equipment on the crossover.09. 2011 Subaru Tribeca
The 2011 Subaru Tribeca is offered with a wide range of safety technologies. The seven-passenger crossover provides side-curtain airbags, front side-impact airbags and dual-stage front airbags to help it earn a “Good” rating from the IIHS when it comes to frontal offset impact, side impact and rollover strength crash testing. The Tribeca also provides a collapsible steering column and an available rear-vision camera.
Additional safety equipment offered on the Subaru Tribeca includes standard all-wheel drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control, a traction control feature and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist. A tire pressure monitoring system and variable torque distribution which actively manages the power sent to the front and rear wheels are also provided free of charge.10. 2011 Kia Sportage
The 2011 Kia Sportage was completely redesigned for the current model year, and as such it offers cutting edge safety technologies that have allowed it to boast a rating of “Good” from the IIHS in its comprehensive crash-testing program. In addition to featuring active headrests that help to prevent whiplash, the 2011 Kia Sportage also provides full-length side curtain airbags, front side airbags and traditional forward airbags.
The Kia Sportage is additionally gifted with electronic driver’s aides such as a Traction Control System, Electronic Stability Control and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, Downhill Brake Control and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.