Top 10 Safest SUVs

SUVs are a popular vehicle choice for many drivers. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out they're more likely to roll over than cars. Here's a list of the highest safety-rated SUVs for 2009 in crash tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Small SUVs

The top three rated by the insurance institute are: Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda Element and Subaru Forester. These three were also the top-ranked small SUVs in the Institute's roof strength test.

Midsize SUVs

The top three are: the Honda Pilot, the Subaru Tribeca and the Toyota FJ Cruiser. The Tribeca has a choice of five- or seven-passenger models, and the Pilot can have a third-row seat. Edmunds auto reviews says the FJ Cruiser is known for its distinct looks and off-road abilities.

Midsize Luxury SUVs

The institute ranks the Acura MDX first, followed by the BMW X5 and the Infiniti EX35. The 2009 MDX was also ranked the No. 1 Luxury Midsize SUV by U.S. News & World Report, which bases its ranking on test drives as well reliability and safety data.

Large SUV

Top rated was the Audi Q7, described as a luxury SUV that seats up to seven people, handles well on the road but doesn't have the best fuel efficiency. There was a four-way tie for second: the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and Saturn Outlook.

What the Institute Tests

According to the website, the institute tries to determine how well a vehicle will protect its occupants during a crash. This includes front and side crash tests and evaluations of seat and head restraints. And the winning vehicles must offer electronic stability control.