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Safest Luxury SUVs for 2024

The safest used and new luxury SUVs are ranked based on our analysis of the crash tests and safety ratings from the U.S. government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The safest luxury subcompact SUV is the Buick Encore (10 safety rating), with the Acura RDX being the safest luxury small and compact SUV (10 safety rating). The Acura MDX ranks #1 for the safest luxury midsize SUVs (10 safety rating).

The safest luxury large SUV is the Lincoln Navigator (10 safety rating) and the safest luxury crossover SUV is the Acura MDX (10 safety rating). Topping the list for the safest luxury three-row SUVs is the Acura MDX (10 safety rating), while the Acura MDX (hybrid) ranks first for the safest luxury hybrid SUVs (10 safety rating).

The safest luxury plug-in hybrid SUV (PHEV) is the Volvo XC90 (Plug-in Hybrid) (10 safety rating), with the Tesla Model X being the safest luxury electric SUV (10 safety rating). The Acura MDX ranks #1 for the safest luxury 7-seater SUVs (10 safety rating).

The safest hybrid luxury 7-seater SUV is the Acura MDX (hybrid) (10 safety rating), with the Acura RDX being the safest luxury 5-seater SUV (10 safety rating). The Volvo XC90 ranks #1 for the safest luxury 6-seater SUVs (10 safety rating).

What Defines a Safe Luxury SUV?

Vehicle safety should be a primary consideration for every luxury SUV buyer, but what defines a safe luxury SUV?

iSeeCars uses the rating systems from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as the basis for deriving an iSeeCars safety score for each luxury SUV. These rating systems include NHTSA’s 5-star rating that tests a vehicle’s crashworthiness in a frontal crash, side impact crash, and rollover crash, plus the rollover risk for a given vehicle. IIHS’ rating system uses Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ to define safety, and is based on three crash tests that include frontal crash tests, side crash tests, and a roof strength test. IIHS also rates safety features like head restraints, front crash prevention technology, and headlight performance.

The safest luxury SUVs will earn a five-star rating from NHTSA and an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, but iSeeCars doesn’t base its safety score on good ratings from a single model year. Instead we average a luxury SUV’s safety ratings over five model years to come up with a 5-year average to determine a given model’s safety score. We also include a list of standard and optional safety features for each luxury SUV, including forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams. These safety equipment lists will vary by vehicle type, with three-row luxury SUVs like the Genesis GV80 and Land Rover Range Rover offering more standard features than midsize luxury SUVs like the BMW X5, Lexus RX or Lincoln Nautilus. See a complete list of luxury SUV off-road, towing, and safety technologies, along with an explanation of how they work, below.

How to Practice Vehicle Safety

New vehicles are safer than ever, but even today’s advanced driver assist systems can’t overcome unsafe driving habits. With modern luxury SUVs offering high horsepower engines and car-like ride and handling, drivers can be lulled into thinking they are as light and nimble as a traditional new car. But luxury SUVs remain taller and heavier than a sedan or wagon, giving them increased cargo and passenger capacity, particularly in full-size models with a third-row. But their elevated weight and center of gravity puts luxury SUVs at a greater risk of rollover, even with their modern safety systems designed to avoid such a disaster.

Luxury SUV drivers must take these factors into consideration, allowing for more stopping distance and careful maneuvering when parking. And because luxury SUVs can travel off-road, drivers should understand how all-wheel drive and other off-road technologies work before leaving the pavement. A luxury SUV’s upgrades on higher trim levels can include advanced technology like an adjustable ride height and off-road cameras displaying what’s under the vehicle on the infotainment system. But these features can’t make up for a lack of knowledge and bad decisions during off-road excursions.

The same is true when using a luxury SUV for towing, which can be dangerous if a driver doesn’t understand how to safely attach a trailer and drive it in a prudent manner. Technologies like trailer sway control and a trailer brake controller can be effective mitigation factors in reducing towing risks, but drivers should have a full understanding of proper towing protocol before their first trailering experience. Also keep in mind that fuel economy can be drastically impacted when towing, with a luxury SUV’s mpg dropping as the trailer’s weight increases.

As a luxury SUV driver you’re the most important safety feature in your vehicle. You can use the lists below to identify which luxury SUVs offer the highest safety scores and what safety technologies are standard and optional. But you must always supplement those systems with safe and prudent driving practices, such as wearing your seat belt, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, and remaining focused on the task of driving your luxury SUV responsibly.

Modern Safety Technology Terms and Definitions:

Automatic Emergency Braking: when forward sensors detect an imminent collision they can apply the brakes, even when the driver doesn’t, to assist with front crash prevention

Automatic High Beams: the vehicle can automatically switch between low beams and high beams when appropriate

Blind-Spot Monitor: alerts the driver when another vehicle is in the blind spot to reduce the chance of a collision during a lane change

Cross-Traffic Alert, Forward and Rear: sensors monitor the movement of vehicles passing in front of, or behind, a parked vehicle, alerting the driver to potential collisions; rear cross traffic alert is particularly help when backing out of a parking space with tall vehicles on the drivers and passenger side.

Driver Attention Monitoring: monitors driver behavior and creates an audible and visual warning if the driver shows signs of distraction or fatigue

Electronic stability control (ESC): Electronic stability control automatically applies the brakes when a vehicle skids or slides on slippery surfaces or curvy roads. This safety technology is so important that it has been required in most vehicles since 2012.

Forward (or Pre-) Collision Warning: alerts the driver of a potential or likely collision; this system often works with Automatic Emergency Braking to improve front crash prevention

Hill Descent Control: Uses the traction control and brake system to maintain a set speed as a vehicle descends an off-road or slippery surface while coming down a steep incline

Hill Start Assist (or Hill Hold): Maintains brake pressure to keep a vehicle from moving after the brake pedal is released and before the throttle is applied, making it easier to control a vehicle operating on a steep incline

Lane Centering: more advanced than Lake-Keeping Assist, Lane Centering uses small steering corrections to keep a vehicle centered in its lane

Lane Departure Warning: alerts the driver when the vehicle begins to drift out of its lane

Lane-Keeping Assist: monitors the vehicle’s position in its lane and makes steering corrections if a vehicle starts to drift out of its lane

Parking Sensors, Front and Rear: produces audible warnings when parking a vehicle to help the driver understand how close the vehicle is to a solid object (another car, wall, etc.)

Pedestrian Detection: uses sensors to detect pedestrians and can apply brakes to avoid collisions or reduce vehicle speed prior to collision

Radar Cruise Control (also known as Smart Cruise Control or Adaptive Cruise Control): uses sensors to maintain a set distance from vehicles traveling in front of the primary vehicle, thus reducing the need for driver input to maintain a set speed

Rear Seat Reminder: reminds the driver to check the rear seat area before exiting the vehicle and can sound the horn if rear-seat movement is detected after the vehicle is locked

Safe Exit Assist: monitors street traffic when a car is parked to reduce the likelihood of opening a door when another vehicle is approaching or passing by

Steering Assist: can steer the vehicle away from an imminent collision

Surround View (or 360-Degree) Camera: provides an overhead view of the vehicle in the infotainment system to see how much space is available on all sides when parking or moving at low speeds

Trailer Brake Controller: Integrates a trailer’s brake system with the tow vehicle’s brake system, automatically applying both when the driver applies the brakes

Trailer Sway Control: Applies brakes to individual wheels to slow a towing vehicle down when trailer instability is detected

See more

How We Rank These Cars

The iSeeCars “Safest Car” lists rank cars, trucks and SUVs based on our analysis of the crash tests and safety ratings from the U.S. government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Along with the Safety scores, the lists show additional iSeeCars scores because we believe other factors should be taken into account to find the best overall vehicle. If there is a tie in the Safety scores between vehicles, we use the overall iSeeCars Score to break the tie.

The overall iSeeCars Score is an analysis of three factors: reliability, resale value and safety. It is calculated based on the latest research and analysis by our data science team. The data analysis comes from over 12 million new and used vehicles in our Longest-Lasting Cars and 5-Year Depreciation Studies, combined with NHTSA and IIHS Safety Ratings.

Vehicles are scored in three categories:

Reliability | 33.3%

The reliability score represents an analysis of iSeeCars' proprietary research on the longest-lasting vehicles.

Value Retention | 33.3%

The value retention score is based on our data science team's statistical analysis and prediction of 5-year depreciation from MSRP to determine which cars hold their value best, using US Bureau of Labor Statistics data to adjust for inflation.

Safety | 33.3%

The safety score is calculated based on the last five years of crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and incorporates the latest Top Safety Pick information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

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