Safest SUVs of 2022 [With Comparison Table]

February 2nd, 2022 by

SUVs — or sport utility vehicles — are among the most popular vehicles sold today. They’re frequent choices in everything from professional fleets to off-roading adventures and everyday driving, providing ample cargo space and seating for anywhere from five to eight occupants. But SUVs come with a range of different features and qualities, which is why we’ve created a comprehensive guide — The Safest SUVs of 2022 — compiled from extensive research, trustworthy data from top sources, and our industry experience.

Safety Ratings

We consulted with the safety experts — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). Many popular auto review websites, such as Kelley Blue Book, J.D. Power, and Consumer Reports, rely heavily on these safety ratings to form their expert opinions. Here is an overview of the criteria used:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The NTHSA has developed a five-star rating program to “provide consumers with information about the crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles beyond what is required by Federal law.”

Vehicles are ranked on a scale of one to five — one being the worst and five being the best. The categories include:

  • Overall rating
  • Frontal crash
  • Side crash
  • Rollover

These tests are based on the majority of U.S. crashes. In industry safety testing, the dummies used represent an average-size male and small-size female. If you’re looking for more information, we invite you to visit the NTHSA website.

Insurance Institute of Highway Safety

IIHS’s ratings evaluate how well a vehicle protects you and your passengers should you get in a crash. They also measure crash avoidance and mitigation (technology that prevents or lessens the severity of a crash). The IIHS rating scale* is as follows:

Best

 

 

Worst 

Good

Acceptable

Marginal

Poor

Superior

Advanced

Basic

 

*Note: Some ratings are on a scale from Good to Poor while others are scaled from Superior to Basic.

Size & Seating Capacity

You’ve probably heard the terms “compact SUV” and “mid-sized,” but what do they actually mean? SUVs can typically seat anywhere from five to eight people, depending on the vehicle’s size. Here’s a quick rundown of the differences:

  • Compact: These fuel-efficient vehicles often have a lower price, handle more like a car, and are easier to park.
  • Mid-sized: These SUVs come with more power and more available options compared to compact SUVs.
  • Large: This size offers extra cargo space, third row seating, and towing capacity.

The Safest SUVs of 2022

Note: The following vehicles are listed alphabetically and are not ranked in any particular order. Also, some of these safety features listed are not standard and may differ between model year and trim.

Chevrolet Trailblazer

Ford Escape

Ford Explorer

Hyundai Tucson

Jeep Compass

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Kia Sportage

Mitsubishi Outlander

Nissan Rogue

Subaru Outback

Toyota Highlander

Chevrolet Trailblazer

2022 Trailblazer

There are four trims of the 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer, which was named a Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS. Satellite radio and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities became standard in 2022; the L trim was discontinued for this year. Featuring a large cargo area and seating for up to five passengers, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is a good middle-of-the-road compact SUV featuring high safety marks.

NHTSA Rating:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 5/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Teen Driver Technology
  • Forward collision warning
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Automatic high beams
  • Child safety locks
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control

Ford Escape

2022 Ford Escape

When it comes to crash test ratings and overall safety, the Ford Escape has certainly improved. The 2021 and 2022 models received high marks from the IIHS and feature Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology, which includes lane-keeping assist, rearview camera, and other important safety features. Choose from 10 different 2022 Ford Escape trims, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.

NHTSA Rating:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 5/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • BlueCruise
  • BLISÒ(Blind Spot Information System)
  • Lane-keeping system
  • Pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking
  • Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Evasive steering assist
  • Rearview camera
  • Active Park Assist 2.0
  • Auto high beam headlights

Ford Explorer

2022 Ford Explorer

The 2022 Ford Explorer, available in eight trims, is another Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS. As with the Ford Escape, this model features Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology and standard safety features like a rearview camera, pre-collision assist, and blind spot monitoring. Referred to as “the ultimate exploration vehicle” by Ford, the Explorer seats up to seven passengers.

NHTSA Rating*:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 5/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

*This information relates to the 2021 Ford Explorer. The data for the 2022 model is not available.

Notable Safety Features:

  • Auto high-beam headlamps
  • Rearview camera
  • Lane-keeping system
  • Intelligent adaptive cruise control
  • Pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking
  • BLISÒ (Blind Spot Information System)
  • Reverse brake assist

Hyundai Tucson

2022 Tucson

This compact SUV, which was featured in the 2021 superhero movie “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” includes four available trims, and for the first time, hybrid and plug-in models. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson was listed as #1 (out of 18) on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Compact SUVs of 2022.

NHTSA Rating*:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 5/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

* This data relates to the 2021 model. The 2022 data was not available at the time of this report.

Notable Safety Features:

  • Remote smart parking assist
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection (FCA-Ped)
  • Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go
  • Driver attention warning
  • Highway driving assistance
  • Lane following assist
  • Blind spot view monitor

Jeep Compass

2022 jeep compass

For those who are loyal Jeep fans, the Compass is worth considering if you’re interested in a compact SUV. Introduced in 2007, the Jeep Compass is larger than the Wrangler and Renegade but smaller than the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Known for its excellent off-roading capabilities, the Compass was newly redesigned for 2022 and includes a more sophisticated cabin and the latest technology.

NHTSA Rating*:

  • Overall Rating: 4/5
  • Frontal Crash: 4/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 3/5

* This data relates to the 2021 model. The 2022 data was not available at the time of this report.

Notable Safety Features:

  • Forward collision warning with active braking
  • Blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Active lane management
  • Seven standard and advanced airbags
  • Rearview camera

Jeep Grand Cherokee

2022 Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is completely redesigned for 2022, and one of the major changes is the option of a front passenger interactive infotainment screen and a high-definition screen for rear passengers. Ranked #3 (out of 22) on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Midsize SUVs for 2022, the Jeep Grand Cherokee features seven trims and includes 110 standard and available safety and security features, according to Jeep’s website, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward automatic emergency braking.

NHTSA Rating*:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 4/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

* This data relates to the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV 4WD model. The 2022 data was not available at the time of this report.

Notable Safety Features:

  • Active driving assist
  • Hands-free active driving assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go
  • Active lane management
  • Full-speed forward collision warning with active braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection
  • Rearview backup camera with front and rear park assist
  • Blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection
  • 360° Surround View Camera
  • Available night vision
  • Intersection collision assist
  • Drowsy driver detection
  • Traffic sign recognition

Kia Sportage

2022 Kia

The 2022 Kia Sportage was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick (when the vehicle is equipped with Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist and LED headlights, both of which are optional). The latest model was ranked #4 out of 14 in terms of safety for Compact SUVs by U.S. News & World Report, which gave the vehicle a 9.3/10 safety rating.

NHTSA Rating:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 4/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • 4-wheel ABS
  • 4-wheel disc brakes
  • Forward collision avoidance-assist with pedestrian detection
  • LED headlights
  • Brake assist
  • Daytime running lights
  • Traction control
  • Blind spot monitor
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Driver attention warning
  • High beam assist
  • Rear cross-traffic collision warning
  • Blind-spot collision warning

Mitsubishi Outlander

2022 Outlander

The Mitsubishi Outlander was completely redesigned for 2022, featuring a sleeker exterior, more cargo space, and additional room for passengers. The 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is named a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ by IIHS, though the award only applies to vehicles that were built after June 2021. It’s available in five trims with seating for up to seven passengers. The Outlander Sport is a smaller, less expensive version of the same vehicle with seating for five.

NHTSA Rating:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 4/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • Anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist
  • Electronic parking brake with auto hold
  • Hill start assist
  • Automatic high beams
  • Forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection
  • Driver attention alert
  • Blind spot warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane departure prevention
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Blind spot warning
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Front and rear parking sensors

Nissan Rogue

2022 Nissan Rogue

This popular compact SUV is Nissan’s best-selling model. The Nissan Rogue was completely redesigned in 2021, and newer models feature standard infotainment features such as an 8” touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio.

NHTSA Rating:

  • Overall Rating: 4/5
  • Frontal Crash: 4/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Pedestrian and cycling detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • Rearview camera
  • Rear parking sensors

Subaru Outback

2022 Outback

The 2022 Subaru Outback, named a Top Safety Pick+ by IIHS, features eight options, including the new Wilderness trim. Standard and optional safety features include blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and Subaru STARLINK® Safety and Security, which offers connected services that could help you in the event of a collision.

NHTSA Rating:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 5/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • Standard Eyesight® Driver Assist Technology
  • Subaru DriverFocus® Distraction Mitigation System
  • Blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert
  • Reverse automatic braking
  • Subaru STARLINK® Safety and Security
  • Crash protection for every passenger

Toyota Highlander

2022 Highlander

Also named a Top Safety Pick+ by IIHS, the 2022 Toyota Highlander is available in six trims, including both gas-powered and hybrid options. The vehicles are equipped with Toyota Safety Sense™, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane departure alert, and other safety and security features.

NHTSA Rating:

  • Overall Rating: 5/5
  • Frontal Crash: 4/5
  • Side Crash: 5/5
  • Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
  • Dynamic radar cruise control
  • Lane departure alert
  • Automatic high beams
  • Lane tracing assist
  • Road sign assist
  • Available blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Available front and rear parking assist with automatic braking

Comparison Chart

IIHS

Here are some helpful definitions from IIHS that relate to the ratings in the table below:

  • Small overlap front: driver side — In this test, a vehicle travels at 40 mph toward a rigid barrier. A dummy that represents an average-size man is in the driver’s seat. According to IIHS, “twenty-five present of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver’s side.” This test replicates what will happen if the front left corner of a vehicle hits another vehicle or a tree, utility pole, etc.
  • Small over front: passenger-side — This test is practically the same as the previous one, except the overlap occurs on the right side of the vehicle and a passenger dummy is included, in addition to the driver.
  • Moderate overlap front — In this test, “a vehicle travels at 40 mph toward a barrier with a deformable face made of aluminum honeycomb. The barrier face is just over 2 feet tall. A Hybrid III dummy representing an average-size man is positioned in the driver seat. Forty percent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver side. The forces in the test are similar to those that would result from a frontal offset crash between two vehicles of the same weight, each going just under 40 mph.”
  • Side — According to IIHS, “side crashes account for a quarter of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the United States.” Three factors determine side crash ratings: driver and passenger injury measures, head protection, and structural performance. You can find the details of IIHS’s side test, and an accompanying video, here.
  • Roof strength — A strong roof can prevent the vehicle’s occupants “from being ejected through windows, windshields, or doors that have broken or opened because the roof has deformed.” As IIHS explains: “In the test, the strength of the roof is determined by pushing an angled metal plate down on one side of the roof at a slow but constant speed and measuring the force required to crush the roof. The force applied relative to the vehicle’s weight is known as the strength-to-weight ratio. The peak strength-to-weight ratio recorded at any time before the roof is crushed 5 inches is the key measurement of roof strength.”
  • Head restraints & seats — These tests are used with a dummy that has a realistic spine. The dummy is placed on a sled and a rear impact is simulated. These tests are especially important because according to IIHS, “neck sprains and strains are the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. auto insurance claims.”
  • Headlights — The “reach of a vehicle’s headlights” is measured as the vehicle travels on straight stretches and around curves. It’s important to note that headlights are not all created equal; there are differences in bulb types and technology, and according to IIHS, “government regulations about headlights don’t guarantee consistency when it comes to the amount of illumination they provide in actual on-road use.”

Headlights are tested in the following approaches:

  • Straightaway
  • Gradual left curve (800-foot radius)
  • Gradual right curve (800-foot radius)
  • Sharp left curve (500-foot radius)
  • Sharp right curve (500-foot radius)
  • Front crash prevention tests — These tests evaluate vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian collisions. Details of how the tests are conducted can be found on the IIHS website.
  • Child seat anchors: LATCH ease of use — LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. According to IIHS, “although child restraints can be installed properly by using vehicle safety belts, LATCH is intended to make correct installation easier. In addition, tether anchors are always needed when installing forward-facing restraints, regardless of either the lower anchors or the safety belt is used. The top tether keeps the child seat from pitching forward in a crash.”

safest compact suv

 

IIHS (continued)

safest midsize suv

NHTSA rating

safest large suv

In the market for an SUV? With more than 50 years of experience, Merchants Auto is ready to help you find the perfect vehicle for your budget and needs. As the largest pre-owned dealership in New Hampshire, we have hundreds of vehicles to choose from top manufacturers. Visit our showroom in Hooksett, NH, or contact us today to get started.

Posted in Models, SUVs