15 Safest Midsize SUVs in 2020

2020 Subaru Ascent
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Safest Two- and Three-Row SUVs on the Market

In case you haven’t noticed, sport-utility vehicles – especially midsize car-based crossover models – are fast replacing sedans as the rides of choice for U.S. consumers. They’re particularly popular among families, being roomy, comfortable and practical, and offering all-wheel drive for added abilities over slick or snowy road surfaces. However, some perform better than others at protecting their occupants in a crash, and – importantly – helping drivers avoid getting into an accident in the first place.

Fortunately, two separate entities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the industry-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) test new vehicles for safety and post the results annually, so new-vehicle shoppers can make more informed choices in this regard. 

The NHTSA’s five-star ratings are based upon how well a vehicle protects its occupants, based on crash tests with instrumented dummies in simulated frontal and side-impact collisions.

The IIHS’ ratings are likewise culled from instrumented crash tests, but involve more diverse criteria. The models it deems as being among the safest are named Top Safety Picks. To earn this status, a given model must earn “good” marks in five out of six of its forward and side-impact crash tests, and a “good” or “acceptable” rating in the stringent passenger-side small overlap frontal test. It must also either come with or offer a forward emergency automatic braking system that’s rated as “advanced” or “superior,” with the latter meaning it’s able to avoid a crash or substantially reduce the vehicle’s speed in tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph. 

In addition, vehicles must either come with or make optional headlights that receive “good” or “acceptable” marks in the IIHS’ tests. Headlight performance is an overlooked element of auto safety. The IIHS gives it added attention as nearly half of all fatal crashes in the U.S. occur in the dark, and more than a quarter of them on unlit roads. To earn the Institute’s highest Top Safety Pick+ status, a vehicle must earn good marks in all six of its crash tests and offer headlights that are deemed “good” in their ability to illuminate the way ahead.

We update our scores as new information becomes available, so the data in this slideshow might not match the most recent data in our reviews. We’re presenting the safest midsize SUVs in ascending order according to their U.S. News safety scores, noting their as-tested NHTSA and IIHS ratings, and standard and optional driver assistance safety features. 

If you have a bigger budget and are considering something more upscale, click here for the safest luxury midsize SUVs.

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