Despite their appearance, not all SUVs are equipped for all-terrain driving. Many were produced for a consumer who never even contemplated taking his SUV beyond his own neighborhood. But what about safety? Shouldn't the sheer mass of such large vehicles offer more protection? The answer is, again, no. Repeated consumer studies have shown that many SUVs possess safety standards well below that of many mid-sized sedans. That said, some of these vehicles are truly what they appear to be: rugged, dependable workhorses that can handle unforgiving conditions. Research your options carefully so you can tell these genuine models from the gas-guzzling, aesthetically engineered, irresponsibly marketed vanity pieces.