• 5-Star crash-test rating for 2014 MDX
  • 5-Star crash-test rating for 2014 RDX
  • High-tech driver-assistance systems available for MDX

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded two new Acura SUV models with its top crash-test rating. Both the 2014 Acura MDX -- a 3-row, 7-passenger vehicle -- and the smaller 5-passenger 2014 RDX earned 5-Star ratings from the federal vehicle safety regulators. That's an improvement for the newly redesigned MDX, and the first overall rating for the RDX since the agency introduced tougher testing for 2011 models.

NHTSA rates vehicles in three categories and assigns an overall score. Both the MDX and RDX earned top ratings in both the frontal crash and side crash tests but came up just short in rollover testing, earning 4-Star ratings. Still, the strong frontal and side crash-test results allowed the two Acura models to earn top ratings overall.

The 2014 Acura MDX is completely redesigned, the third generation of the popular SUV. While its predecessor was exclusively offered with all-wheel drive, the latest version can be specified with front-wheel drive for better fuel economy and a lower base price. Notably, both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions earned the 5-Star safety rating, though the all-wheel-drive version performed slightly better in rollover testing.

The same is true for the smaller RDX, which also comes in all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. Both versions earn a 5-Star rating overall but, according to NHTSA, the all-wheel-drive RDX presents a lower risk of a rollover.

Protecting occupants in the 2014 Acura RDX are technologies such as automatic-tensioning front seat belts, airbags and active front-seat head restraints. Active safety features such as stability control help drivers avoid a crash, while Acura's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body helps protect passengers in an accident.

The 2014 Acura MDX uses similar safety features but also includes side-curtain airbags for all three rows. The new MDX offers high-tech safety features recommended by NHTSA, too. These include lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning systems. MDX buyers who want these features will need to choose the MDX Technology Package. Stepping up to the Advance Package brings even more driver-assistance systems, such as auto braking for the frontal-collision system and a blind spot monitor.

Most drivers value top safety ratings when shopping for new cars, trucks and SUVs, but protecting passengers is especially important for family-friendly vehicles such as the Acura MDX and RDX. These 5-Star safety ratings give shoppers confidence that the two models will perform well in the unfortunate event of a crash.

What it means to you: Both of Acura's latest SUVs -- the 7-passenger 2014 MDX and 5-passenger 2014 RDX -- earn top marks for safety, regardless of whether they have all-wheel drive.

Find an Acura MDX or RDX for sale

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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