Nissan Murano Might Be Safest SUV/Crossover You Can Buy

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Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

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, Automotive Editor - May 12, 2015

IIHS test results indicate three models which earned the highest marks.

Summer is almost here and If you're shopping for one of the newer-generation midsize SUVs or crossovers, chances are, you have your mind made up. Or not. Either way, in addition to all the style, utility and fuel economy features offered throughout the evolving segment, a key component that should also make its way into your consideration set should be car safety. And today's news highlights the fact that three models came out on top of the strict safety testing carried out by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).

Three Big Winners

The three big winners in the IIHS small overlap crash test were the 2015 Nissan Murano, 2015 Ford Flex and 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. The newest design of the winning trio happens to be that of the Murano, a model that continues to sell at or slightly below MSRP. The new Murano earned the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus accolade--the highest rating issued by the Institute.

Although the Murano isn't a big-volume seller for Japan's second biggest manufacturer (Toyota is numero uno), it's a significant model in the 2015 portfolio as growing families yearn for larger, more capable SUVs and crossovers. But just how important are these three row models? Very much so, if you ask Lexus. And we happen to agree. Now, they're getting even safer.

The Impact of Improved Safety

It might seem obvious, but safety is extremely important, especially when you take into account the priceless cargo that all vehicles--regardless of segment--carry to and from school, soccer practice and ballet recitals across the country.

And let's face it: cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers are getting bigger and heavier. Massive improvements in the form of NVH (noise, vibration, harmonics) leave drivers and passengers with a subdued sense of speed. How often have you been travelling along your favorite stretch of highway only to be startled upon lowering your eyes to the instrument cluster? Today, 90 mph feels more like 50 mph. That's how good vehicles are getting at eliminating NVH.

To offer some context, let's look at the recent history of how automakers remain nimble and open to adapting existing platforms. In the middle of 2014, Toyota went ahead and made a strong case for safety by implementing a mid-cycle refresh to it's best-selling Camry midsize sedan.

Two Camry models were sold concurrently: the 2014 and the 2014.5, the latter of which featured improved safety features at a slight price increase. Such a refresh is extremely rare for the brand, especially since sales of the Camry were doing so well. Many unsuspecting shoppers weren't aware of the switch, but once dealerships communicated the changes, the decision to spend another few hundred dollars for big safety improvements was a no-brainer for most.

In the case of the Murano, only the 2015 model is available. But for the Ford Flex, both 2014 and 2015 models are currently on sale. You might find a better deal on the outgoing 2014, but we would spring for the 2015 model even if it costs just a smidge more.

May 2015 Deals and Incentives

This month, there are some decent deals and incentives on all of the models mentioned at the beginning of this story.

2015 Nissan Murano | IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus | MSRP $30,445

Nissan Murano

The safest SUV on the market also comes with a bit of good news, as prices have stabilized. Initially, the new 2015 Murano models were selling at or above MSRP. Not this month. Although rebates have yet to be offered, the Murano can be found for prices slightly below MSRP. To see all the incentives, click here.

2015 Ford Flex | IIHS Top Safety Pick | MSRP $29,910

Ford Flex

The Flex doesn't seem like a traditional SUV, but it has all the capabilities of one. It's cabin is probably the most functional and spacious of any vehicle in any segment, this side of a Chevy Suburban. The Flex is also the second safest vehicle in its segment, coming right below the Murano. Both 2014 and 2015 models are available,but we'd opt for the 2015 because it's safer. Incentives this month are solid, especially the big cash back offers. To see the rest of the incentives, click here.

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited | MSRP $27,790

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

It didn't quite earn the Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, but it scored pretty darn well for a vehicle of its size and stature. The Wrangler Unlimited is pretty iconic, and it won't get confused with anything else on the road. Moreover, it's safe, and the IIHS made mention of it in its testing especially in the small overlap test. In fact, it even scored better than the Flex in this portion of the testing. That being said, the Wrangler Unlimited sells extremely well, and that might come as a bit of surprise as Jeep rarely discounts the model. There is a tempting lease offer, however. Click here to see it.

See more purchase deals here »

See more lease deals here »

Information for this news story was pulled from the IIHS News website.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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