Families requiring additional passenger and cargo capabilities, not to mention towing, find the perfect combination in Safest Large SUVs. The bigger they are, the safer they are seems to be the general consensus, and, for the most part, that’s true. Full-size SUVs have a commanding view of the road, feature the latest high-tech safety equipment (standard or optional), and offer great value for the money.

We’ve selected three picks for Safest Large SUVs by considering standard accident avoidance and other safety equipment in the full-size SUV category. Audi Q7 ranks at the top of the list due to federal crash test ratings of 5 stars in frontal/side-impact and 4 stars in rollover testing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and 2009 Top Safety Picks for large SUVs from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Note that IIHS did not list any large SUVs as Top Safety Picks for 2010 and only one (Audi Q7) is on the 2009 IIHS list.

  • Audi Q7Sharing elements of its basic design with the Volkswagen Touareg, the Audi Q7 luxury large SUV differentiates itself in terms of styling, equipment, price, and 7-passenger capability. You know it’s an Audi because of Q7’s overall refinement, high-quality build, and excellent ride and handling, and the vaunted Audi Quattro all-wheel drive. Consumer Guide names Q7 a Recommended pick, saying, “Overall, Q7 earns our Recommended nod for mechanical finesse, terrific all-weather road manners, and the fuel-frugal diesel option. Audi design and workmanship also appeal.”
  • Cadillac EscaladeWith seating for up to 8 passengers, the full-size luxury Cadillac Escalade can haul in style, comfort and safety, offering many of the same safety features as the competition – but with Cadillac’s prestige and reputation. For luxurious, old-school SUV capabilities, look-at-me styling, plenty of power for its size, and even a hybrid, consumers should definitely take a look at Escalade. Edmunds comments: “Stylish and powerful, the 2010 Cadillac Escalade ranks as one of the better full-size SUVs on the market…For folks who feel the need for a combination of luxury sedan trappings and full-size SUV functionality, Escalade proves that sometimes too much is just enough.”
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-ClassWith nearly best-in-class EPA-estimated fuel economy of 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway from the GL320 CDI turbodiesel, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class makes a statement for buyers who want to truly stand out from the crowd in this contender for Safest Large SUVs. The superbly-performing 7-passenger luxury full-size SUV is a car-based crossover, not a truck-based SUV, but it still can take on off-road terrain, thanks to standard all-wheel drive, independent rear suspension, and electronic stability control. Car and Driver has this to say of the 2009 model: “The unibody GL arrived two years ago and promptly became one of our favorite utes, combining passenger car drivability with SUV cargo and passenger room. The GL is solidly built and beautifully finished. The best engine price is arguably the ‘value-priced’ diesel.”

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