Every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) takes most of the cars on the U.S. market and runs them into walls. Afterward, vehicles that ace six crash tests, offer collision-prevention technology, and provide quality headlights win Top Safety Pick+ awards.
That’s the institute’s highest ranking. For 2018, cars did much better than SUVs for the first time in years. Glancing at the list, you’ll see models like the Toyota RAV4 (poor passenger-side crash tests) and Honda CR-V (subpar headlights) losing their spots from 2017.
As they retool and upgrade their safety specs, other utility models can claim to be safer when properly equipped. Here are the only six crossover SUVs with the top safety rating from the IIHS in 2018.
1. Hyundai Santa Fe
With the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander falling off the podium in 2018, that left just three midsize SUVs with the Top Safety Pick+ designation. One was the Hyundai Santa Fe, the larger of two models bearing the Texas city’s name.
When buyers choose the tech in Ultimate trim and opt for front-crash prevention tech, this model is among the safest vehicles on the road. It aced nearly every crash test the IIHS threw at it.
2. Subaru Outback
No matter what year it is or what new tests the IIHS introduces, Subaru always seems to lead the pack in safety awards. That tradition held in 2018, with five of the automaker’s six eligible vehicles nabbing the top honor. (Outside of luxury segments, only Kia came close to Subaru’s mark.)
Outback, which the IIHS puts in the midsize car/wagon category, gets the Top Safety Pick+ award only with front-crash prevention and specific headlight options. If you’re keeping score at home, that makes six straight years Outback nabbed the top honor.
3. Mazda CX-5
The Mazda CX-5 can hardly be more recommended these days, but the Top Safety Pick+ designation for 2018 should reel in even more buyers this year. Again, to get this safe, buyers will have to add on front-crash prevention and the proper headlights.
This year, CX-5 was the only model in the small SUV segment to get the IIHS’s top safety honor. As for the other Mazda crossovers, both CX-3 and CX-9 had to settle for basic Top Safety Pick awards.
4. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Though it’s smaller than the standard model, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport posted the same level of crashworthiness in the IIHS tests. That made it two years in a row for this model.
With the proper headlights and safety tech, it’s the third of three midsize SUVs with the highest IIHS rating for 2018 models.
5. Kia Niro
In its second year on the market, the Kia Niro hybrid wagon/crossover landed the Top Safety Pick+ award. Looking at the results, Niro aced every crash test IIHS put it through, and was deemed “superior” for front-crash prevention when buyers opt for the right package.
The same applies to headlights, which knocked so many vehicles off the podium in 2018. When buying a Niro, go with the HID projectors if you want the safest car for night driving.
6. Subaru Crosstrek
Pulling in with the sixth Top Safety Pick+ for crossovers was the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek. Overall, it’s one of the most recommended models in the small SUV category.
If safety is a priority in your vehicle search, Crosstrek should definitely be among the vehicles you consider. According to every IIHS test result, you won’t find a safer car on the market.