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Top 10 safest cars

As Euro NCAP Safety Ratings celebrate 20 years of improving car safety, we look at 10 of the safest cars you can buy

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2017 marks 20 years since the introduction of the Euro New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP). Since their introduction in 1997, it’s estimated Euro NCAP Safety Ratings have saved more than 78,000 lives by encouraging manufacturers to produce safer vehicles.

When the tests were first introduced, they were controversial among carmakers. Manufacturers complained that Euro NCAP tests were too stringent and that it would be impossible to achieve a high score, with some of the most popular cars of the time (including the Rover 100, Fiat Punto, and Nissan Micra) achieving only one or two stars for safety. But 20 years on, and with the tests becoming more comprehensive over the years, new cars are consistently awarded four or five-star ratings.

The Safety Ratings can also have an impact on insurance costs. As of 2014, new cars have been required to come equipped with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) to score the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests. Insurers may consider cars with AEB to be less at risk of being at fault in a crash, as research has found AEB reduces the risk of accidents by up to 27%.

Our list of the ten safest cars is based on the latest five-star Euro NCAP ratings available (2016 or 2017) in different car classes. While star ratings can’t be compared directly between different categories of vehicle, we’ve picked the highest-scoring in each class.

Safest small family cars

Hyundai Ioniq

Safest cars - Hyundai-Ioniq

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)
Adult occupant: 91%
Child occupant: 80%
Pedestrian: 70%
Safety assist: 82%

As well as being one of the most fuel-efficient cars available, the Hyundai Ioniq is also one of the safest. It scores particularly well for safety assist technology, which includes lane support, AEB and seatbelt reminders.

Subaru Levorg

Safest cars - Subaru Levorg
Image used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of The NRMA

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 92%
Child occupant: 83%
Pedestrian: 75%
Safety assist: 68%

While the Subaru Levorg looks sportier than your average family car, it’s actually one of the safest choices out there. While safety measures for car occupants are impressive, the Levorg also has one of the best scores for pedestrian safety.

Safest large family cars

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Safest cars - Alfa-Romeo-Giulia

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 98%
Child occupant: 81%
Pedestrian: 69%
Safety assist: 60%

The Alfa Romeo Giulia was released in 2016 and received an almost perfect score for adult occupant safety. With a child occupant score of 81%, it’s one of the safest family cars available — and it doesn’t compromise on looks for safety.

Kia Niro (with safety pack)

Safest cars - Kia-Niro

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 91%
Child occupant: 80%
Pedestrian: 70%
Safety assist: 81%

The Kia Niro with safety pack installed scores a high five-star rating. The standard version of the Niro has a four-star Safety Rating — but is still one of the highest-scoring cars tested in 2016.

Toyota Prius

Safest cars - Toyota-Prius

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 92%
Child occupant: 82%
Pedestrian: 77%
Safety assist: 88%

One of the better-known hybrid vehicles available, the Prius isn’t just eco-friendly but safe too. The Prius scores particularly well for pedestrian safety, although this is an area many car manufacturers are encouraged to improve in by Euro NCAP.

Safest small MPV

Renault Scénic

Safest cars - Renault-Scenic

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 90%
Child occupant: 82%
Pedestrian: 67%
Safety assist: 59%

The Renault Scénic has been a common sight on UK roads since 1997. The latest version, released in late 2016, has an impressive safety rating with top-of-the-range safety equipment installed as standard.

Safest small off-road vehicles

Volkswagen Tiguan

Safest cars - VW-Tiguan

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 96%
Child occupant: 84%
Pedestrian: 72%
Safety assist: 68%

The VW Tiguan is has been around for 10 years now, but its latest iteration received one of the highest scores for adult occupant safety, as well as a good score for child occupant safety.

Audi Q2

Safest cars - Audi Q2

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 93%
Child occupant: 86%
Pedestrian: 70%
Safety assist: 70%

Although not slated as a family car, the Audi Q2 has a high child occupant Safety Rating, making it a top consideration for families with children. Being larger than the average family car, it’s practical too.

Safest large off-road vehicle

Ford Edge

Safest cars - Ford Edge

Euro NCAP safety scores (2016)

Adult occupant: 85%
Child occupant: 76%
Pedestrian: 67%
Safety assist: 89%

The Ford Edge has one of the highest safety assist scores from recent tests, meaning there are many measures in place to prevent an accident from happening in the first place. In the case of the Ford Edge, this includes AEB, speed assist and lane support technology.

Safest executive cars

Volvo S90/V90

Safest cars - Volvo S90

Euro NCAP safety scores (2017)

Adult occupant: 95%
Child occupant: 80%
Pedestrian: 76%
Safety assist: 93%

The Volvo S90 and V90 achieved identical safety scores when they were tested in January 2017. The V90 is the estate version of the S90 pictured above. Both models have an impressive safety assist score of 93%, with the addition of ‘intelligent speed assistance’.

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