The Most Popular, Safest, SUVs You Can Buy Today

Buying an SUV that’s safe should be one of the most important factors in any buying decision. There are several rating agencies that measure the safety of SUVs, but the one most of us turn to is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its unbiased ratings. But, the NHTSA doesn’t test every new car, truck or SUV, and in fact it only picks a few every year to test. Of the top-selling 2022 SUVs, it has rated eight, are they the safest SUVs.

What is the NHTSA safety rating for the safest SUVs?

a crashed Lexus RX350
Crash testing a Lexus RX450 | NHTSA

While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests almost every car, the NHTSA only chooses a few cars to test every year. For example, the NHTSA has not rated some of the most popular, including the best-selling Ford Bronco yet. For 2022, the NHTSA will crash test 33 new cars, trucks and SUVs. We’ll soon get results on some of the most popular, including the Toyota RAV4 Prime, the Chevy Bolt EV and EUV, the Ford Maverick truck, and others.

One dive into the NHTSA’s website and you’ll get confused. The NHTSA does not give every vehicle a rating, only the most common. And, even when it does test, it doesn’t test every level of every model, so you have to do a deep dive to learn which crash ratings are actually current. For example, the agency tested the 2022 Acura MDX in front-wheel drive trim, and gave it a five-star rating, but, the all-wheel drive version is not rated.

However, of 2022’s 10 best-selling SUVs, the agency has rated eight. Most of them have earned five-star ratings from the NHTSA.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee WK

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee driving down road
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee | Jeep

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the best-selling SUV so far this year. But Jeep is doing an interesting thing in that it’s still selling the previous generation of Grand Cherokee as the WK version new alongside the all-new 2022 Grand Cherokee. So, while the NHTSA lists a five-star rating for the Grand Cherokee, it’s for the WK version, and not the all new version. The all-new Grand Cherokee is an evolution of the Grand Cherokee formula, and it can be ordered in a standard SUV or as an out trail monster in Trialhawk trim.

2022 Ford Explorer

A Timberline version in the forest
2021 Ford Explorer Timberline | Ford

The Ford Explorer earns five stars from the NHTSA. The Ford Explorer was last updated in 2020 and it’s the second-best selling SUV in the country today. While Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend the Ford Explorer, it does earn a “great” reliability rating from J.D. Power, as well as a “great” rating for the driving experience.

2022 Jeep Wrangler

2022 Jeep Wrangler on a road
2022 Jeep Wrangler Sahara | jEEP

The Jeep Wrangler gets a four-star rating, and while that’s not the top rating, it’s still better than many. The Wrangler is unique in that it’s built for off-roading, and not the road. That means it’s not the most comfortable, or quietest, or fastest SUV, but to legions of fans, it’s a Wrangler or nothing.

2022 Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4 Runner is getting a bit long in the tooth. The current generation, which earns four stars from the NHTSA, came out in 2009. But the 4Runner has been constantly upgraded and the newest versions can be had with the sophisticated Crawl Control, or even positively in the Limited version that has every option Toyota can add.

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe on gravel road
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe | Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe earned a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. The Santa Fe may not be the most exciting of compact SUVs, but it does pack in a lot of value for it’s $27,700 base price and is one of the safest SUVs. The Limited and Calligraphy trims of the Santa Fe are the luxury models, while there’s also PHEV plug-in version that has a 30-mile EV range.

2022 Toyota Highlander

Front angle view of Wind Chill Pearl 2023 Toyota Highlander SUV
Wind Chill Pearl 2023 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

The NHTSA reviewed the 2021 Highlander and gave it five stars, making it one of the safest SUVs. The seven-seat Highlander also checks a lot of the right boxes for reliability and quality, it’s recommended by Consumer Reports, has high reliability ratings, and the NHTSA reports no recalls. The $35,855 Highlander also can be ordered as an all-wheel drive hybrid that gets great mileage.

2022 Lexus RX350

White 2022 Lexus RX L Posed
2022 Lexus RX L | Lexus

The 2022 Lexus RX 350 Earned a four-star rating from the NHTSA. But, if you want a 2022 RX, hurry up. There’s an all-new version of the RX headed to showrooms soon with new sheet metal, a new interior, and a ton of new features. The new RX also has new engines that should breathe some performance life into this SUV, especially in F-Sport trim.

2022 Ford Edge

2022 Ford Edge driving on the road. Is the SE base model worth buying? What about the SEL trim?
2022 Ford Edge | Ford

The Ford Edge is one of the top-10 best sellers this year and it earns a five-star rating from the NHTSA. The Edge seats five and competes well against other midsized SUVs like the Honda Passport or VW Atlas Cross Sport. But, the Edge has remained mostly the same since it was last redesigned in 2019.

2022 Kia Telluride

Everlasting Silver 2022 Kia Telluride parked in front of a forest
Everlasting Silver 2022 Kia Telluride | Kia

The new 2023 Kia Telluride is hitting dealers this fall with a new look, new features, new off-road and performance packages, and a lot more technology. It’s expected to keep the same five-star rating as it’s still on the same platform.  The Telluride and its counterpart the Hyundai Palisade, are three-row SUVs that won have earned a slew of awards from automotive journalists and pack a lot of value for their $35,000 base price. 

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