The safest cars on the market

The safest cars on the market
One of the main qualities we look for in a new vehicle is safety, particularly important for those looking to invest in a family car.

To give you an idea of the safest cars on the market right now, we’ve put together a list of the best models that rated five stars in their class on recent Euro NCAP safety tests.




What is Euro NCAP rating?

Established in 1997, Euro NCAP is an EU-wide vehicle safety rating system created to help car buyers easily compare the safety aspects of various models.

Euro NCAP safety ratings assess vehicles in four key areas – adult protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist – through a series of high-tech crash simulations using crash test dummies covered in sensors.

To reflect constant innovations in vehicle safety, Euro NCAP constantly updates its testing criteria – so a car which scored five stars in 2014 may not reach the same heights again if tested against 2019’s requirements.

Each year Euro NCAP assesses several vehicle classes. In 2018, four classes were assessed: safest small family car, safest large family car, safest large SUV and safest hybrid/electric.

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2019 Rating
SEAT Tarraco
Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Honda CR-V
2018 Rating
Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Lexus ES
Audi Q3
Volvo XC40
Audi A6
Volvo S60
Volvo V60
Peugeot 508
Mazda 6
Hyundai NEXO
Hyundai Santa Fe
VW Touareg
Jaguar I-PACE
Nissan LEAF
Ford Focus

Will having a safer car make my insurance cheaper?

That largely depends on you. Generally speaking, insurance companies are more bothered by your personal driving record than how your vehicle has performed in safety tests like the Euro NCAP.

So while safer cars will generally mean cheaper premiums, if you have a history of being an unsafe driver this will likely override any reductions you would benefit from by having a safer vehicle.

However, cheaper insurance premiums shouldn’t be the only reason to invest in a car with a strong safety record and there are other ways to lower your premium, such as black box insurance that records your driving style.

Safest small family car (2018)

mercedes a class

As compact family-sized hatchbacks go, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the safest on the market and with its sleek new look, this fourth generation A-Class makes a mockery of the German brand’s slightly stuffy reputation.

Sportier than your average family car, the A-Class has a whole host of safety systems fit as standard, including Lane Assist, Active Bonnet and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems for cyclists, pedestrians and city driving.

In recent Euro NCAP tests, the A-Class comfortably outperformed rivals, scoring a head-turning 96% for adult protection and 91% for child protection. Pedestrian protection also ranked high (92%), cementing the A-Class’s safety credentials.  

Read our Mercedes-Benz A-Class review here.

Safest large family car (2018)

lexus es

If the A-Class sounds too compact for your family, you might want to invest in the petrol/electric hybrid Lexus ES, an executive saloon that took the title of safest large family car from its Toyota family stablemate, the Prius.

In a sector dominated by more expensive, German-made executive cars like the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class, the Lexus ES more than holds its own offering a smooth, quiet ride that’ll keep the kids comfortable and safe in the back.

The ES scored an impressive 91% for adult protection in the 2018 Euro NCAP tests, following that up with 90% pedestrian protection, 87% child protection and 77% safety assist, which all adds up to a great score for the Japanese car.

Read our Lexus ES review here.

Safest small SUV (2017)

Volkswagen t-roc

Euro NCAP didn’t test this category in 2018, but in 2017 the title of safest small SUV went to the funky-looking Volkswagen T-Roc, based on the ever-popular VW Golf – while its sister car T-Cross takes inspiration from the VW Polo.

Against 2017’s safety criteria, the T-Roc scored an excellent 96% for adult protection and 87% for child protection, although not having an active bonnet meant the SUV scored a still-credible 79% for pedestrian safety.

Read our Volkswagen T-Roc review here.

Safest large SUV (2018)

hyundai nexo safe

In 2018, the Hyundai Nexo made history by becoming the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to be tested by Euro NCAP, and when it finally hits the UK market this spring it’ll come with a five-star Euro NCAP review.

This is a good-looking SUV and while the auto-flush door handles will win it some fans, the most impressive aspect of the Nexo is its Hyundai SmartSense system, including Lane Following Assist technology and Blind Spot monitoring.

In the NCAP tests, the Nexo scored an excellent 94% for adult protection and 87% for child protection, and although it performed slightly weaker for pedestrian protection (67%), it is equipped with active bonnet technology.

Safest hybrid/pure electric car (2018)

lexus es

If you’re not already persuaded the Lexus ES is the car for you, you might be convinced when you find out it’s also rated the safest hybrid/pure electric car on the market.

Its Hybrid Synergy Drive system keeps garage visits to a minimum compared to a fuel-powered alternative, which could make all the difference when choosing which executive saloon is best for you and your family.

As you’d expect from a Toyota-produced car, the ES is crammed with innovative safety features like Smart Stop technology, bodywork ‘crumple zones’ and Safety Connect, which gives emergency services access your car’s GPS location.

Safest supermini (2017)

volkswagen polo

Scoring five stars in Euro NCAP tests back in 2017, the Volkswagen Polo is an impressive, and surprisingly spacious, supermini that has a great collection of safety assets hidden beneath its sleek, urban run-around exterior.

It’s not the cheapest, but the Polo remains extremely popular and the latest version is packed with VW safety innovations, including its signature Front Assist, as well as Blind Spot Monitoring and City Emergency Braking systems.

Read our Volkswagen T-Roc review here.

Safest small MPV (2017)

vauxhall crossland x

Despite sitting firmly in that grey area between SUV, MPV and supermini, the fashionable Vauxhall Crossland X took the title of safest small MPV back in 2017 and is a great option for families looking for a more compact MPV experience.

The Crossland X comes with lane departure warning technology and traffic sign recognition systems that saw the model get a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

Alongside these stellar safety features, parents can also protect their sanity during long drives thanks to a decent inbuilt infotainment system.

Read our Vauxhall Crossland X review here.

Safest large MPV (2015)

ford galaxy

It might be three years since the Ford Galaxy was named safest large MPV with a five-star rating, but despite a tightening of the Euro NCAP criteria since then, the Galaxy remains a good choice for families looking for a dependable drive.

Look past its boxy appearance, and the fourth-generation Galaxy is a solid drive and includes safety measures like enhanced vehicle stability systems and various driver assistance features included within Ford’s MyKey technology.

Read our Ford Galaxy review here.

Safest roadster/convertible (2015)

mazda mx car

While safety might not be your first thought when buying a convertible, the delightfully-compact Mazda MX-5 shows how you can still have a lot of fun while driving the safest roadster on the market.

Euro NCAP last tested this category back in 2015 so the requirements will have shifted slightly, but the 2-door Mazda MX-5 scored a notable four stars, notching up 84% for adult protection and 93% for pedestrian protection.


The rules around children's car seats change every few years with ever increasing safety standards. Make sure you are keeping your little ones safe with our Car Seat Calculator.

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