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Safest Cars of 2016 Part III: Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Honda CR-V and More Top Picks From the Large Cars and SUVs Category

Large cars and SUVs come in handy when you have a large family or want plenty of room for storage and transport. While size and convenience are two major considerations you think about when shopping for one of these vehicles, safety features should be a key point as well.

The third and final part in our Safest Cars of 2016 series features large cars and SUVs that have received the highest safety ratings from the IIHS. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety takes the guesswork out of finding a safe and reliable large car or SUV. It awards its Top Safety Pick ranking to cars that achieve a ‘Good’ rating for features like roof strength, small and moderate overlap fronts, side, seat, and head restraint designs. However, it gives its top honor of Top Safety Pick + to cars that achieve a ‘Good’ rating for these features as well as a superior rating for their front crash prevention capabilities.

For 2016, the IIHS gave this distinction to 48 vehicles. The following are some of the winners of the TSP+ rating in the Large Car and SUV category:

2016 Acura RLX 

Photo my Mr.choppers / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Pictured: 2014 Acura RLX. Photo my Mr.choppers / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Retailing at $54,450, the 2016 Acura RLX is one of the winners of the TSP+ rating for large vehicles. This luxury sedan’s subtle styling and advanced features on the interior make it a popular choice among buyers.

The 2016 Acura RLX Sedan Navigation comes with a powerful 310 HP, 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 272 ft-lbs of torque. The six-speed shift-able automatic transmission gives a sporty feel to it. The RLX doesn’t just sport power under the hood, it’s comfortable and roomy as well, and you can stretch your legs even when you sit in the back.

What makes the RLX a popular pick is the sheer number of standard features that cannot be found elsewhere in this price range: the RLX comes with navigation, keyless ignition and entry, as well as LED headlights. The collision avoidance system is standard in higher trims (Technology and Advance), and what’s best, the MSRP hasn’t changed when compared to the previous year.

2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 

Pictured: 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe. Photo by Jay / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Pictured: 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe. Photo by Jay / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

With its optional front crash prevention feature, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class receives the Top Safety Pick + rating. The luxury sedan from the series retails at $52,150 and sports a sleek, angular body along with black upholstered interiors. The lineup of the E-class is quite extensive, with a wide variety of body styles to choose from, as well as five engines and the ability to select from a large number of combinations.

Under the hood, you will find a 3.5L V6 that produces 302 HP and 273 ft-lbs of torque. The 7-speed shiftable automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive with a four wheel independent suspension, and front and rear stabilizing bars keep the E-Class glued to the road. The E-Class gets 20 MPG for city driving and 29 MPG on the highway.

2016 Honda CR-V 

Photo by Jakub "Flyz1" Maciejewski / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo by Jakub “Flyz1” Maciejewski / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The 2016 Honda CR-V is highly popular in the small SUV category, and on top of that, it also received the IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating when equipped with front crash prevention. The CR-V is highly praised among buyers and professionals alike.

Popularity of the CR-V stems from the usability for everyday commute. The spacious design offers ample legroom in the front and the back of the vehicle, with a huge cargo area of over 37 cubic feet that almost doubles when you fold down the back seats. Add 25 MPG for city and 31 MPG for highway driving, and you can understand why this SUV is in such a high demand.

Comfort isn’t the only thing that’s highly praised with this vehicle; the various features and safety options for those who want a bit more are plentiful. You can choose from keyless ignition and entry, heated seats, sunroof, blind-spot cameras, lane keeping assist, automatic braking and more.

Everyone can find their fit with five trim levels that are offered. The MRSP for the basic trim starts at $23,845.

2016 Mazda CX-5 

Photo by Yahya S. / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Photo by Yahya S. / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The crowded category of crossover SUVs has another winner of the Top Safety Pick +, the 2016 Mazda CX-5. The CX-5 is among the top vehicles in the category thanks to its safety features, great ride, comfort, great cabin design and great visibility.

Thanks to its sporty handling and great steering, the Mazda CX-5 is fun to drive. Add great fuel economy (MPG: 25 City / 33 Highway), add exceptional acceleration into the mix, and you have yourself a vehicle that’s great for any occasion. Running errands, dropping the kids off to school or simply going to work instantly become a pleasure.

The CX-5 comes in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, with the base trim having a 2.0 liter engine and manual transmission. Higher trims offer keyless ignition and entry, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, an upgraded interior and more.

The MRSP of the basic trim starts at $21,795.

2016 Honda Pilot 

In the midsize/large SUV category, the 2016 Honda Pilot stands out as one of the safest vehicles out there. The Top Safety Pick + rating is valid for models equipped with the optional front crash prevention safety.

The Honda Pilot might seem a bit big at first, but it’s the perfect fit when searching for a family friendly crossover. With an improved interior compared to previous releases and extra legroom in the third row, the new Honda Pilot is comfortable wherever you sit. The handling and overall ride is improved as well, thanks to a 250-pound weight loss, the Pilot is on par with some luxury vehicles out there. The 3.5-liter V6 and 280 horsepower leave nothing to chance. When paired with AWD, the Pilot provides great control and traction no matter what foul weather you come across, and the extra horsepower compared to previous models gives the thrust that was once lacking.

The starting MSRP for the basic trim is $30,345.

2016 Acura RDX 

Photo by IFCAR / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

Photo by IFCAR / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

Starting at $35,570, the 2016 Acura RDX offers numerous features as standard this year. Driving aids that are most commonly still optional features in many models come standard with the 2016 RDX. You can enjoy each ride thanks to the blind-spot monitoring system, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure intervention system. It’s no wonder that the RDX received the IIHS Top Safety Pick + award as well.

The interior is spacious and pleasant, and the two-tone coloring enhances the luxurious feel of this model.

The RDX comes in a single trim level and offers only one engine. The 3.5-liter V6 doesn’t disappoint: it’s strong, more powerful than earlier year models and offers better mileage as well (MPG: 20 City / 29 Highway). Thanks to the cylinder deactivation tech, the RDX’s fuel efficiency is superior to most in its class.

2017 Audi Q7 

Photo by Jakub "Flyz1" Maciejewski / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo by Jakub “Flyz1” Maciejewski / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

With a starting MSRP if $54,800, the Audi Q7 offers everything expected from a SUV: comfort on long drives, three rows of seats and panache; it also adds something that is not often seen in the class: agility.

The 333 HP 3.0-liter supercharged V6 combined with an AWD and 8-speed automatic transmission make it hard to imagine that we’re talking about a SUV. The beast is kept at bay thanks to adaptive air suspension and four-wheel steering. The Q7 received the highest safety rating from the IIHS… it would be surprising if it didn’t with its many high-tech features and options.

The 2017 model finally got a long-awaited redesign, and 10 years was worth it: sharper looks and an angular grille give the new Audi Q7 a menacing look that separate it from its class.

Although a big crossover, it’s astounding how easy it is to drive this beast. The visibility is superior, and the nimble handling make for a fun drive. The Q7 is full of sensors and cameras that feed information to the computer, making the car almost autonomous on long drives (it can even read speed limit signs). One thing that’s lacking is proper cargo capacity for the class, but this isn’t really noticeable with everything else you get with this vehicle.

Many of today’s large cars and SUVs are built with safety in mind. You can get an attractive, roomy, and safe vehicle by shopping for any of the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick + winners of the large car and SUV category.

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