Determining the top 10 safest SUVs means picking a particular metric and sticking to it. Yes, many sport-utility vehicles manufactured today come with a respectable level of advanced safety equipment, but in order to be completely fair, we've decided to put together this list based on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash test results. Each of the following SUVs has received the Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, which requires passing each of the organization's crash tests - moderate front overlap, side, roof strength - with a rating of 'Good,' as well as receiving a mark of 'Good' for its head restraints and seats. Many of them also feature a number of useful safety features over and above their crash performance, and we'll highlight those, too.
Let's take a quick look at the top 10 safest SUVs available in 2014.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 01 - 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class comes with a host of safety features as standard equipment, including the PreSafe system which can snug seatbelts and prepare the vehicle for an accident if an imminent impact is detected. This is complemented by mbrace2, which is a telematics feature that will automatically notify first responders in the event of a serious collision. Additional safety options that can be added to the Mercedes-Benz M-Class include both blind spot and lane departure warning and intervention systems, with the latter actually applying to brakes to keep the SUV out of harm's way.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 02 - 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander
The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander's modest level of equipment might not match up with luxury models from a comfort perspective but the Outlander definitely delivers when it comes to crash safety. The Mitsubishi Outlander even offers a driver's knee airbag on top of the traditional 360-degree airbag protection that comes standard with the vehicle. For those interested in active safety, the Outlander can be ordered with a lane departure warning system as well as a collision mitigation feature. The collision mitigation system can not only warn drivers if it deems that the SUV is approaching an obstacle or other vehicle too quickly but it can even hit the brakes, going so far as to bring the Mitsubishi to a complete halt if it was originally traveling at 20-mph or less.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 03 - 2014 Acura MDX
That the 2014 Acura MDX should make our list of the top 10 safest SUVs should surprise no one who is familiar with the brand's push to pack its vehicles with as much technology as possible. Like the Outlander, the Acura MDX comes with a driver's knee airbag as standard equipment, and it also features a blind spot monitoring system as well as a lane departure warning system to help keep the SUV pointed straight and true. The latter is also available as an intervention-type system that will actively steer the Acura to keep it in its lane. The MDX divides its forward collision warning and mitigation system into two distinct features: you can order the vehicle with the ability to simply alert you to an impending collision, or you can get the whole-hog automatic braking system, too.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 04 - 2014 Audi Q5
The 2014 Audi Q5 provides entry-level luxury SUV shoppers with a solid level of available active safety equipment in its segment. Although not as comprehensive as the gear that can be found with larger sport-utility vehicles, the Audi Q5 still delivers an available blind-spot monitoring system as well as the option of rear side airbags to go with its front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and dual forward airbags. This is on top of the vehicle's rating of 'Good' in each of the IIHS's important crash test categories, qualifying it for Top Safety Pick status.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 05 - 2014 Subaru Forester
The 2014 Subaru Forester continues the Japanese automaker's tradition of making crash safety its number one priority. Completely redesigned for the current model year, the new Subaru Forester features a robust and rugged design that is elite when it comes to protecting passengers in the event of an accident. This now includes a driver's knee airbag as well as the Subaru Eyesight system, which makes use of a front-facing camera to detect an impending collision as well as alert drivers when the SUV drifts out of its lane. The Forester's Eyesight feature even allows for automatic braking should the vehicle be traveling at speeds of less than 19-mph.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 06 - 2014 Cadillac SRX
The 2014 Cadillac SRX might have been on the market for quite a while, but that doesn't mean it's sacrificing when it comes to safety. In fact, in addition to qualifying as an IIHS Top Safety Pick the Cadillac SRX can be outfitted with a comprehensive level of active safety gear. Lane departure warning and a blind spot monitor work together with the Safety Alert Seat, which notifies drivers of danger by way of vibrating one side of the seat or another - adding a directional element to the warning that is often absent from the beeps of other systems. The SRX also features the option to automatically brake at low speeds if a forward collision is detected. This available system offers automatic collision warning and preparation at all speeds.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 07 - 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee has been given a refresh, and as a result it maintains its solid reputation for crash safety. You'll need to make sure to snag a model that was build after July of 2013, however, in order to make sure you get the version that offers the best possible passenger protection. If you are interested in adding high tech safety equipment to the mix, the Jeep Grand Cherokee can be had a blind spot warning system (that includes rear cross-traffic detection for use when reversing the SUV), as well as a forward collision warning system that kicks in when accelerating too quickly towards a stationary or slowing object immediately ahead of the vehicle.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 08 - 2014 Volvo XC60
Volvo has always been known for its commitment to safety, so it's no surprise that the 2014 Volvo XC60 qualifies as a Top Safety Pick. Standard equipment for the Volvo XC60 includes the City Safety feature, which can be thought of as a low-speed collision avoidance system that scans for pedestrians and cars ahead of the SUV and automatically brakes if it detects anything in its path. You can also add a lane departure warning system, a collision warning feature, and a driver attention monitor, as well as a more robust City Safety system that can slam the brakes on harder than the base version. The blind spot warning system that is optional with the Volvo also offers rear cross-traffic detection.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 09 - 2014 Mazda CX-5
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 incorporates a lot of safety gear that one wouldn't typically expect to find in an affordable compact SUV. The Mazda CX-5 can be had with a blind spot warning system as an option on top of its standard airbags, but it also offers a Smart City Brake Support, which is very much like the Volvo XC60's City Safety feature. The CX-5 actually makes use of lasers to determine whether there's a car or person about to cross the forward path of the SUV, and it can automatically brake the SUV at speeds of less than 19-mph.
Top 10 Safest SUVs 2014 - 10 - 2014 Toyota Highlander
The 2014 Toyota Highlander is a mid-size SUV that only offers active safety features once you start to get into the higher trim levels. All versions of the Toyota Highlander come with a driver knee airbag, but moving to the Limited trim introduces a blind spot monitoring system, free of charge. You can also add a lane departure warning system and a forward collision warning and automatic braking system to the Highlander Limited as options, along with the Safety Connect telematics system's ability to automatically contact emergency personnel in the vent of a crash.