Will SUVs Keep You Safer on the Interstate?

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Front view of a white SUV on a paved road.

Driving defensively is a must for staying safe on the interstate. But the type of vehicle you drive also plays a role in your safety. In this article, we look at SUVs to determine if they’re a safer option than other vehicles.

Whether you drive without other people in the car or you take kids back and forth across town, you’ll want to keep reading. Let’s dive in! 

Safest SUVs with Highest Safety Ratings & Crash Prevention Features (2021)

About SUVs

An SUV is a sports utility vehicle. The term refers to big, truck-like vehicles that are fully enclosed without a truck bed and can carry more cargo than a car. Manufacturers produce small, mid-sized, and large SUVs. Many have four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive for off-roading.

What Are the Pros of an SUV?

There are several benefits to owning an SUV. One of the main benefits is the cargo capacity. Some large SUVs have third-row seating in the back and can seat up to nine people. For example, the 2022 Chevrolet Suburban can seat nine people and still has room for carrying gear. The payload capacity on the Suburban is 1,684 to 1,884 lbs.

In addition to large payload capacities, another pro of SUVs is their ability to tow. A large SUV like the Suburban can pull up to 7,800 lbs. So it can tow a travel trailer that has a gross vehicle weight rating under that. This is a massive benefit to RVers who don’t want to buy or upgrade to a truck for pulling their travel trailer or camper.

Fuel efficiency is a benefit of small to midsize SUVs. You can get the room and small truck-like feel without having a gas guzzler. Small SUVs like the 2022 Honda CRV get 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. That’s nearly as good as most full-size cars.

A man stands outside of his SUV that is pulled off the highway out in Death Valley.

What Are the Cons of an SUV?

The most obvious downside of an SUV is the price. They don’t come cheap. The 2020 Chevrolet Suburban we mentioned earlier starts at $52,400. And the 2022 Honda CRV starts at $25,750 before add-on features. The reason for their high prices is the construction, features, and engine sizes. So while you get what you pay for, the sticker shock is real.

Another con when owning an SUV is the price of repairs. Depending on which brand you purchase, parts can be more expensive on SUVs. For example, large SUVs have big tires similar to a truck, and therefore they cost more money to replace.

Unlike small and midsize SUVs, large SUVs don’t always have good fuel economy. They can also be difficult to park and maneuver because of their size.

Keep in Mind: Driving a fuel efficient SUV doesn’t mean you should put off pulling into a gas station when you’re approaching empty. Find out just how low you should let your gas tank get.

Key Safety Features to Consider When Buying an SUV

When shopping for an SUV, we recommend ensuring yours has the following safety features. Let’s take a look.

Three-Point Seatbelts

Three-point seatbelts are the best type to keep you and your passengers safe. Make sure that your SUV has these in the front and back seats. This type of seatbelt has a “Y” shape and has three mounting points. There’s a right and left lap mount and a shoulder mount to restrain from your chest to your lap. They come standard in the front seats of modern vehicles but are essential to also have in the back seats.

A woman wearing her seatbelt in the passenger seat of an SUV looks out the window at the trees they pass by.

Active Head Restraints

An active head restraint is a crucial safety feature in any vehicle you purchase. The system is for rear-end crashes. This movement triggers the backrest to bring the headrest forward and decrease the distance between your head and the headrest. As a result, it reduces the risk of injury to your neck.

Airbags

Make sure your SUV has driver and passenger airbags. Airbags will deploy during a collision. They inflate quickly to help reduce the risk of injury. And they also deflate quickly so that suffocation doesn’t happen.

Anti-Lock Brakes

Anti-lock brakes are a helpful safety feature, especially if you’re driving in wet or snowy climates. The anti-lock braking system prevents the SUV from skidding while stopping on slippery roads. Instead of tapping on the brakes when your car is sliding as we did on older models, anti-lock brakes do the work while your foot is on the brake pedal.

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic stability control is a safety feature that comes on most recent SUV models. It’s a technology that improves the SUV’s stability by reducing any loss of traction. The system prevents the SUV from spinning out due to loss of traction on slippery roads.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

A tire pressure monitoring system is another key safety feature that’s becoming more standard on recent SUV models. The electronic system monitors the air pressure of your tires. If the pressure gets too low or too high, an alert appears on your dashboard display monitor.

Will SUVs Keep You Safer on the Interstate?

SUVs are some of the safest vehicles on the road. One reason for this is their size. SUVs have well-balanced weight distribution, and they handle well going down the road.

Semi trucks, cars, and SUVs driving down a busy, seven lane interstate.

Compared to Cars?

SUVs generally take the force of a collision better than cars. Consumer Reports notes a study that showed that in head-on crashes, the odds of death were 7.6 times higher for someone driving a car than an SUV.

Compared to Trucks?

Trucks can be less safe than SUVs. According to MotorBiscuit, a study reported that head-on collisions are more often fatal for truck drivers versus SUV drivers. 

Are SUVs Prone to Rollovers?

Manufacturers have improved upon the technology and overall builds of SUVs over the years. In 2013, Consumer Reports stated that a study showed SUVs are more prone to rollovers due to their higher center of gravity. While this still rings true for many SUVs, many of the rollovers reported in the past note that deceased passengers were not wearing seatbelts.

Is an SUV Worth It When It Comes to Safety?

Purchasing an SUV is worth it, in our opinion. They’re some of the safest vehicles on the road, especially when they tick all of the key safety features we listed. Driving a larger vehicle than a sedan can also provide confidence and security on the road. Do you feel safer in an SUV?

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