auto

Safe and fun-to-drive SUVs

 

When sport utility vehicles first entered the market, there were plagued by safety concerns. Frequent rollovers and heavier construction, which caused considerable damage during crashes, made the SUV seem like a deathtrap. Nowadays, SUVs are earning high marks from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here is Bankrate's roundup of the top five SUVs that are as safe as they are fun to drive.

Topping our list is the Volvo XC60. Volvo calls the XC60 the car that stops itself, because of its city-safety feature, which identifies hazards and applies the brakes automatically at speeds less than 31 miles per hour. Adaptive cruise control and collision warning systems round out the safety package in the XC60.

Up next is the Lexus RX 350. Noteworthy features include advanced anti-lock brakes and brake assist technology, which senses when the driver panic-brakes and provides extra pressure. Ten air bags in the cabin will keep the driver and passengers safe. The air bag system senses whether the passenger is an adult or child and adapts air bag deployment accordingly.

The Ford Explorer has implemented technology that addresses stability and rollovers. Its AdvanceTrac technology monitors roll and yaw rate. This helps keep the driver in control in the event of a wheel slip, roll or fishtail. The Explorer comes with an extra layer of safety in the form of its Safety Canopy air bags. These air bags protect passengers head and chest and help prevent ejections in side-impact accidents and rollovers.

The Toyota Venza is the lowest-priced on our list and is another top scorer by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Venza comes standard with its Star Safety Package, which combines anti-lock brake system, electronic brake force distribution, enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, Smart Stop Technology and brake assist. The Venza has seven air bags including side-curtain and a driver knee air bag. In addition to being the most affordable, the Venza is also the most fuel-efficient, getting 26 highway miles to the gallon.

And rounding out our list is an IIHS top safety pick, the Hyundai Santa Fe. The Santa Fe comes standard with electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes. And if you're ever in an accident, it includes three years of Hyundai's Assurance Connected Care, a program that connects drivers to emergency services and stays on the line until help arrives.

For more on these SUVs and to shop for the best auto loan rates in your area, check out the auto page on Bankrate.com. I'm Lucas Wysocki.

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