Today, there seem to be countless exciting, fun, and entertaining features in new cars. These are the features that make you say “wow!” when you’re looking at new SUVs for sale. You can sync your cars to your smart devices at home, send hands-free texts, and so much more. These features are enjoyable and certainly make for a more pleasant driving experience. However, the most important features to consider when looking at any vehicle are the safety ones. If your car can’t get you from point A to point B safely, then all of the other exciting features of it are a moot point.
There is particular interest among drivers of SUVs in safety features. SUVs are people haulers, meaning they’re popular family vehicles, and the drivers often transport children. Plus, an SUV is simply a lot of car to handle, so drivers of these massive vehicles need especially effective and intuitive safety features to act as their second sets of eyes and ears. That’s why so many people ask, “which SUVs are safest?” when shopping for one. According to rankings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, (IIHS) the Chevy Trailblazer, Ford Explorer, Chevy Equinox, Kia Sorento, and BMW X5 are some of the safest SUVs around. These rankings are all for the 2022 models. Here’s a look at the driver-assist and safety features found in each one.
Chevrolet Trailblazer & Chevy Equinox
The Chevrolet Trailblazer and Equinox boast a comprehensive suite of standard driver-assist features that help prevent accidents and mitigate damage in the event of a collision. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2023 Trailblazer a Top Safety Pick+ (the best rating available). As for the Equinox, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it a five-star overall safety rating.
The chances of a collision happening can be reduced thanks to select features like Forward Collision Alert and Automatic Emergency Braking, which will notify you of an impending crash and automatically activate the brakes if necessary. When changing lanes, these vehicles will notify you if someone is in your blind spot––and will also alert you when you’re accidentally veering out of your lane. When it’s not a car but rather a pedestrian you’re at risk of hitting, the Front Pedestrian Braking system senses people in front of the car and activates your brakes. Additionally, a Following Distance Indicator lets you know when you’re getting too close to the car in front of you.
Several systems help drivers know what’s happening around their car at all times, including the rear vision camera (which is very helpful when backing out of driveways) and a rear seat reminder that notifies you to check the back seat for valuables before getting out of your car. Finally, with OnStar safety and security coverage, if an accident does occur, help will be on the way right away. In the event of a crash, specially trained advisors will communicate with you through the car’s speakers, locate your vehicle, and send the appropriate first responders.
Parents of teen drivers can particularly appreciate Chevy’s Teen Driver technology. This system activates certain additional safety features when a teen driver key fob is detected. It allows parents to set up speed alerts that notify them when their teen is driving too fast and limit how high the volume can go on the sound system. This unique system is not found in other vehicles and makes Chevy SUVs perfect for families with new drivers.
The spacious three-row Ford Explorer is designed with features that help you maneuver this sizable vehicle with confidence. That’s why the IIHS named the 2022 Ford Explorer a Top Safety Pick+ after extensive testing. One of the many valuable safety features of the Explorer is its available Adaptive LED Headlights, which steer the light beams as you turn the steering wheel to improve visibility through corners. Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control allows you to set the speed you want to go and the distance you’d like to keep between yourself and other drivers. When it senses you’re too close to other cars, it adjusts your speed accordingly, then resumes your preferred speed when it is safe to do so.
When the chance for a collision is detected, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking will activate, notifying you of the impending problem and hitting the brakes if necessary. A lane-keeping system warns you via steering wheel vibrations when you’re drifting out of your lane, and a Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert lets you know when someone is in your blind spot or behind you when changing lanes or backing up. The rearview camera is also very useful when backing out of driveways or getting in and out of tight parking spots.
Another three-row SUV, the Kia Sorento, is a great family vehicle, and it has the safety features to prove it. Some of these include smart airbags, which inflate based on the severity of the crash, and Safe Exit Assist, which alerts drivers and passengers of incoming hazards (like cars or cyclists) when getting out of the car. It even activates the child locks when necessary. The 2022 model is an IIHS Top Safety Pick––an award it has held since 2016.
Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Blind Spot Assistance help prevent front-on and lane-changing collisions. Additionally, a 360-degree Surround View Monitor made up of four cameras displays what’s happening around your vehicle on the touchscreen, keeping you informed of hazards and conditions. A parking collision avoidance system activates the brakes when you’re reversing out of a spot, and a hazard is detected.
This luxurious midsize SUV is stylish and easy to handle, as well as loaded with intuitive safety features. The 2022 model was named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS after getting top marks for crash safety and collision avoidance. The IIHS only withheld the coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating because the X5 requires the optional Executive Package to enjoy its brightest headlights.
Some of the advanced driver-assist features here are similar to those found on the other SUVs on this list, such as Active Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, and Frontal Collision Warning. However, some safety features really stand out on this SUV, like the available Extended Traffic Jam Assistant and Automatic Lane Change. This semi-autonomous driving mode can take over steering, braking, and acceleration when activated at low speeds. The X5 also boasts a driver monitoring system that detects driver fatigue based on specific behaviors and notifies you when it’s time to pull over and rest.
Enjoy Peace of Mind in These Top Rated SUVs
SUVs can be great family and road trip cars thanks to their generous passenger seating and cargo space. However, the more space, the more car to handle. That’s why SUV drivers should critically assess the safety features of these sizable vehicles. Luckily, many safety authorities and organizations have done the hard work for us and ranked the top safest SUVs. With options from Ford, Chevy, Kia, and BMW, drivers have a range of brands to choose from, in addition to a variety of SUV sizes.
Driver-assist features are no replacement for driver alertness and competence. However, they can reduce the chances that a collision occurs and help minimize the severity of a crash. Each of the SUVs listed here has other admirable features in the categories of infotainment, performance, and more, but knowing that you’re in a car that will keep you safe can give you the peace of mind to enjoy those features. If you’re serious about keeping yourself and your passengers safe, consider one of these safest SUVs next time you go car shopping.