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Safest 2013 SUVs: Small SUVs

By: Jeff Youngs, 6/18/2013
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Listed below, in alphabetical order, consumers will find the safest small SUVs of the 2013 model year, based on the results of crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Each vehicle received either a 5-star overall crash-test rating from the NHTSA, or a "Top Safety Pick" or "Top Safety Pick +" rating from the IIHS, or both. For each model, standard and optional safety features are highlighted.


2013 BMW X1
A "Top Safety Pick," the BMW X1 comes standard with rain-sensing wipers as well as a braking system with brake drying, brake stand-by, and brake-fade compensation features. The X1 can be equipped with BMW Assist telematics with a 4-year subscription to Safety Plan services including Automatic Collision Notification, as well as a reversing camera, front and rear park-assist sensors, adaptive xenon headlights, and automatic high-beam headlights.


2013 Buick Encore
A new compact crossover from Buick, the Encore is an IIHS "Top Safety Pick" and, when equipped with all-wheel drive, receives a 5-star overall crash-test rating from the NHTSA. Ten air bags are standard, as well as OnStar telematics with Automatic Crash Response service. Options include a reversing camera, front and rear park-assist sensors, forward-collision warning system, and a lane-departure warning system.


2013 Ford Escape
Named a "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS, the Escape includes a standard knee air bag for the driver, trailer sway control, Curve Control, and MyKey technology, which allows the SUV's owner to program speed and stereo volume limits, as well as an incessant seat belt alert. Safety options for the Escape include front and rear park-assist sensors, a reversing camera, blind-spot information system, and a cross-traffic alert system. The available Sync connectivity includes 911 Assist, which can speed rescuers to the scene of a collision following an air bag deployment.


2013 Honda CR-V
Earning top crash-test ratings from both the NHTSA and the IIHS, the Honda CR-V is equipped with a standard expanded-view driver's side mirror to help the driver to see in the SUV's left blind spot, a multi-view reversing camera, and SMS text-messaging capability. Honda offers no safety-related options for the CR-V.


2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
The redesigned Santa Fe Sport gets a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA and a "Top Safety Pick" designation from the IIHS. A 3-year subscription to Blue Link telematics is included, providing Automatic Collision Notification, SOS Emergency Assistance, and the ability to program speed, curfew, and geo-fenced boundary alerts. Downhill Brake Control is also standard, while a reversing camera is optional. A blind-spot warning system is optional only on the larger 7-passenger Santa Fe, which has not been tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS.


2013 Hyundai Tucson
An IIHS "Top Safety Pick," the Tucson includes a Downhill Braking Control system as standard equipment. This small SUV can be optioned with a wiper de-icer grid and a reversing camera.


2013 Jeep Patriot
The IIHS says the Patriot is only a "Top Safety Pick" when equipped with its optional side-impact air bags (standard for 2014). Additional upgrades include rear disc brakes instead of rear drums for the Limited trim level, a tire-pressure monitoring system that shows pressure for each individual tire, and a hill-descent control system.


2013 Kia Sportage
Top-rated by both the NHTSA and the IIHS, the Kia Sportage comes standard with Downhill Brake Control and offers a single safety-related upgrade: a reversing camera.


2013 Mazda CX-5
Called a "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS, the new Mazda CX-5 can be optioned with a reversing camera, active xenon headlights, and a blind-spot warning system. Already on sale, the 2014 CX-5 is offered with a new Smart City Brake Support system designed to actively brake the SUV at low speeds to help reduce impact speed with other vehicles or pedestrians.


2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
The Outlander Sport is the only 2013 model-year small SUV to get a "Top Safety Pick +" rating from IIHS, reflecting its favorable performance in the new small overlap frontal-impact crash test. A knee air bag is standard for the driver, and all Outlander Sports are equipped with a brake override system that is designed to make it impossible for the SUV to accelerate if the brake pedal is pressed. Rain-sensing wipers are available for this model, as well as front and rear park-assist sensors, and a reversing camera.


2013 Subaru Forester
This IIHS "Top Safety Pick" is redesigned for 2014, and is already on sale, but the outgoing 2013 model is one of the safest small SUVs available. Options include a wiper de-icer grid and a reversing camera.


2013 Toyota RAV4
The redesigned RAV4 is a "Top Safety Pick" for 2013, and is equipped with 8 standard air bags, a reversing camera, and Smart Stop technology that is designed to make it impossible for the SUV to accelerate if the brake pedal is pressed. Options include a blind-spot information system and a rear cross-traffic alert system.


2013 Volkswagen Tiguan
A "Top Safety Pick" according to the IIHS, the 2013 Tiguan is available with a reversing camera and an adaptive front-lighting system with xenon headlights, but only when buying the top-of-the-line SEL trim level.

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