What you need to know about SUV safety

Today's SUV-consumers are driven toward finding safer vehicles-and that's helped steer auto manufacturers toward providing more options. However, the number of SUVs available can sometimes make finding one with the right safety features seem confusing. This auto-safety overview may help you find the right SUV for you and your family.

• Four-Wheel Independent Suspension-This feature allows each wheel to react individually to bumps in the road and increases the chances that all wheels will remain firmly planted on the ground. For instance, the Porsche Cayenne features independent suspension at all four corners. The set-up delivers handling similar to that of a sport sedan, with precise and responsive steering that could be vital during an evasive maneuver.

• Unibody Structure-A unibody offers a lower center of gravity and helps reduce body sway, which also helps keep all four wheels firmly on the ground. It also provides increased rigidity to help further enhance handling and to provide outstanding crash characteristics. SUVs such as the Cayenne feature rigid unibody construction. They use high-strength steel for 60 percent of the structure.

• Electronic Stability Control Systems (ESC)-ESC systems are designed to "take over" if a car's sensors detect a loss of control. The Cayenne features Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Traction Management (PTM) and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). PSM and the PTM four-wheel drive system coordinate the anti-lock brake system, the automatic slip regulation system and the automatic brake differential to help restabilize the vehicle in extreme steering conditions. PSM "tells" PTM to open the differential locks and/or apply brakes to individual wheels to help restabilize the vehicle. PASM helps control body sway and dive motions.

• Anti-Lock Disc Brakes-Many of today's cars are equipped with anti-lock brakes, but it's important to look for vehicles with disc brakes, since SUVs frequently carry heavy loads.

• Aerodynamics-Poor aerodynamics can generate lift under a vehicle, creating instability. The Cayenne features spoilers to reduce airflow around the wheels and the vehicle's design was created specifically to reduce lift. The SUV behaves in a way similar to a sports car due to its streamlined shape.

• Airbags-All Cayenne models have dual front airbags, a pair of side impact bags and curtain airbags. The vehicle also has seatbelt-latch pretensioners and the front seats have belt-force limiters.

For more information visit www.porsche.com.

Many of today's SUVs come equipped with advanced safety features.

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