Emergency Handling: These Large SUVs Can’t Hang

Large SUVs, the kind that can carry seven passengers or more, plus two weeks of groceries, are advantageous for a whole host of reasons. Besides their ability to carry lots of people and things, they’re also generally pretty safe, and also easy to find in a parking lot. If there’s one thing they don’t do well though, it’s emergency handling. None of the large , non-luxury SUVs that Consumer Reports tested received a good or excellent rating for emergency handling. What’s going on?

A beige 2021 Ford Expedition parked at the beach.
2021 Ford Expedition | Ford

None of the eight large SUVs tested by Consumer Reports have good emergency handling

Consumer Reports lists eight large non-luxury SUVs that it has tested or plans to test, and none of them offer good emergency handling scores. The 2021 Ford Expedition, Consumer Reports’ highest rated large SUV, still only offers a 2/5 for emergency handling. And the Consumer Reports-recommended 2021 Toyota Sequoia fares the same, scoring a 2/5 for emergency handling.

Okay, so how about the 2021 Chevy Suburban? Surely things must get better. They do. The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban scores a 3/5 for emergency handling. Not fantastic, but not terrible, either. As you might imagine, the 2021 GMC Yukon XL scores the same as its corporate cousin, at a 3/5. The 2021 Chevy Tahoe and 2021 GMC Yukon however, do worse, getting a 2/5 each for emergency handling. Rounding things out is the 2021 Nissan Armada, which also scores as dismal 2/5 for emergency handling.

Do SUVs handle well?

One of the things that makes SUVs so attractive to many car shoppers is the same thing that may make them difficult to drive; their size. Because SUVs are so large and top heavy, they don’t always do well making quick movements like sudden turns.

The emergency handling score that Consumer Reports assigns to vehicles is determined by how well the vehicle (in this case, large SUVs) do when making avoidance maneuvers. These avoidance maneuvers include how fast you can maneuver the SUV under emergency circumstances, and how well the SUV does when you make those adjustments. Consumer Reports says that part of the score reflects “how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.”

Which SUV handles the best?

If you want a three-row SUV and want to make sure you get one with good handling, try going a bit smaller than these three-row monster SUVs. There’s one midsize SUV tested by Consumer Reports that has a good emergency handling score. The 2021 Kia Telluride gets a 4/5 for emergency handling.

Your other option is to go for a large luxury SUV. The 2021 BMW X7 offers seating for seven and also has a 4/5 for emergency handling. It also gets a good Consumer Reports score, at an 82.

Even the large SUVs with the highest ratings often don’t have great emergency handling scores. If you want an SUV that you’ll be able to easily maneuver in an emergency, you should look for one of the smaller SUVs – or pay a premium for a luxury SUV. Of course, emergency handling isn’t the only safety rating that matters, and it’s a good idea to have a clear picture of the entire SUV before deciding which SUV to buy.

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