Top 6 Safest Luxury SUVs $15,000–$45,000

Red Mazda CX9 SUV 2017 Safest Luxury Suvs Australia Feature


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The latest car technology is usually debuted by the luxury SUV auto brands. So, the big upside to a bigger used-car budget is that it can get you into a premium-badge vehicle that, even if quite a few years old, is likely to be packed with welcome safety features.

And if safety is top of your priority list when searching for used luxury SUVs Australia, take a look at Gumtree Cars’ six options below that provide plenty of assurance beyond their five-star crash ratings and maximum used-car safety ratings.


AUDI Q5 (2009–2016)

Audi’s mid-sized luxury SUV starts with ‘good bones’ – a body constructed with a high percentage of ultra-high-strength steel. And that’s matched with the German brand’s renowned build quality.

Inside, there’s not only a feel-good factor about the cabin design but ergonomics are excellent, too, minimising distraction from the road with various controls falling easy to the hand.

On the driving side, all engine choices put their power to the ground smoothly via Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

If there’s the money in your budget, aim for Audi Q5s from late 2012 on wards that benefit from a raft of improvements and additions.

While there’s a safety blot with four-cylinder variants missing out on the rear-view camera standard on six-cylinder models, new safety gear available includes fatigue and blind-spot monitoring, steering that can help nudge you back into the centre of your lane if you’ve started to veer off course, and radar cruise control that can perform emergency braking below 30km/h if there’s a risk of a crash.


BMW X5 (CIRCA 2007–2013)

A vehicle with responsive handling is just the ticket if you need to make a sudden evasive manoeuvre to avoid an obstacle on the road, so let’s describe the X5 as having inherent safety.

We’re dealing with the second-generation BMW X5 here, which doesn’t drop the ball after the original X5 in 2000 set a new standard for the way SUVs handle.

Just in case you get a bit carried away with your speed into a corner, the newer X5 (which features a stronger chassis and upgraded suspension over the older X5) also features an upgraded electronic stability-control system.

The system can brake the all-wheel-drive X5’s inside rear wheel, with extra engine power going to the outer rear wheel, to help prevent the vehicle veering onto the wrong side of the road (what’s known as understeer).

A range of strong engines also ensures effortless motoring.


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MERCEDES-BENZ ML (2012–2015)

Mercedes made a much better fist of its second ML, introduced in 2005. For starters, a switch to a car-style monocoque construction makes it better to drive on the road than the original, and better at absorbing the energy from a crash.

Then there is the debut of the company’s Pre-Safe technology, which upon detecting an imminent roll-over will tighten the seat belts of the driver and front passenger to help brace them for the accident.

It will also automatically re-position the front passenger seat, where electrically adjustable, for optimum airbag protection, and close a sunroof if also featured.

Speaking of airbags, there are nine of them in total – that’s a big number by any SUV’s book.

ML350 models and upwards also have active lane keeping, blind-spot detection and a system that will give you a wake-up call if it thinks you’re nodding off at the wheel.

For a more confident, planted sensation around corners, look out for ML350s fitted with the optional Active Curve System (or higher-spec ML500 and ML63 models where it was standard).

Active Curve used special active anti-roll bars to help keep the body more upright in corners rather than leaning over dramatically.


MAZDA CX-9 (2016–2017)

What’s in a name? Or, rather we should ask, what’s in a badge? Because if you can live with a vehicle that’s not from the luxury brands, and have pretty much the entirety of this article’s maximum $45,000 budget, you can go for something much newer.

Like 2016/2017 new. And this means lots of modern-day safety features for this mainstream model choice: the second-generation Mazda CX-9.

There are four trim grades to watch out for, though every CX-9 comes with blind-spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking that works both forwards and when reversing, and sensors that warn if you’re reversing out of a perpendicular parking spot into traffic.

GT models add front parking sensors (to rear sensors standard on all models) and a head-up display that reduces your need to glance down at the instruments.

Find yourself a CX-9 Azami and you can dine on a whole feast of active safety tech that includes radar cruise control with stop/go function and fatigue monitoring.

To help keep you in your lane, the steering wheel also vibrates if you accidentally wander out of it (Lane Departure Warning), while it will also make subtle corrections to keep you straight (Lane Keep Assist).



Toyota’s more urban-friendly LandCruiser, the Prado, piled on the kilos for its third generation released in 2009. Much of the extra weight, though, contributes to a tougher body that Toyota says is more crash resistant.

All models feature seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag, anti-whiplash head restraints and anti-lock brakes borrowed from the bigger LandCruiser 200 that can recalibrate its settings for effective stopping either on road or off.

Higher-spec models such as the Kakadu add headlights that can peer around corners at night for improved vision, as well as adaptive cruise control and a Pre-Crash system that will pre-emptively tighten seat belts and provide braking assistance.

Standard safety features increase for 2013 models on wards – the same year this Prado was awarded a maximum five-star crash rating by ANCAP.

A rear-view camera is also available on the GX base model, while the Kakadu gains monitoring for blind spots.


VOLVO XC90 (CIRCA 2002–2014)

Those safety-conscious folks at Volvo haven’t stopped since they invented the three-point seatbelt in 1959. And they certainly went to town on their first Volvo SUV in 2002, which is why we’ve gone way back to add the XC90 to our list of safest luxurys SUVs Australia.

The Volvo XC90 features a special gyro sensor as part of a Roll Stability Control system designed to allay fears of this high-riding vehicle toppling over (still a lingering concern for SUV buyers at the time).

If the gyro senses the risk of a turnover, engine power is reduced and one or more wheels braked automatically to help the driver recover control of the XC90.

And if you do end up upside down, there’s comfort in the knowledge that the Volvo’s roof is reinforced with boron steel that’s five times stronger than regular steel.

Curtain airbags also cover all three rows of this seven-seater, and to look after the kiddies there are ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and even a clever booster cushion built into the centre middle seat.

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Jez Spinks

Automotive Journalist