The safest SUVs available in 2021

Want a high riding SUV that doesn't just make you feel safe, but will actually keep you safe in the event of a crash? Here are the safest

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Apr 30, 2021

Do you prioritise being safe on the road above all else? Recent data revealed that the UK has the second safest roads in Europe. Road deaths across the continent have been falling for two decades, and only Sweden is safer than the UK in terms of casualties. Still, accidents do happen and some cars keep you safer than others. We've rounded up the SUVs that offer a high driving position to give you the impression of being safe, but also back it up with excellent crash test ratings.

Modern cars offer greater protection than ever before. As a result, many of us tend to take road safety for granted, helped in no small part by the work of Euro NCAP, which carries out dozens of crash tests on new cars every year. Since the first safety tests were launched in 1997, thousands of new cars have been crash tested by the organisation - all being given ratings to show how safe they are.

Euro NCAP updates its test protocols every two years, so a five-star rating in 2021 means that a car has performed excellently in a tougher test than a car with a five-star result from even a couple of years ago. This information is crucial if you’re looking to buy the safest possible family SUV. Yes, a five-star rating from several years back means a car is pretty safe, but you can be confident that cars with the same score in more recent tests are even tougher.

Although a five-star safety rating is an important consideration when buying a family SUV, there are other things to pay attention to. Make sure the full suite of driver assistance systems are fitted to the trim level you’re looking at.

Some systems are designed to prevent a collision, while others are there to keep you safe should the worst happen. They're no good to you, though, if they're only available on the most expensive version of a model, and you've got the entry-level one. So be aware of what comes with the specific version you're looking at.

To select the safest SUVs, we've used the latest Euro NCAP figures, ranking the cars in order of adult occupant protection. Every SUV listed has a five-star rating to its name, but we’d recommend checking the individual scores, as well as the comments of the crash experts. Remember, an SUV launched in 2021 is likely to be safer than one from a decade earlier, and results from previous years cannot be compared directly due to changes in the test procedure.

Safest SUVs

1. Mazda CX-30

Used deals from £19,200
Monthly finance from £282*

Adult occupant rating 99%Child occupant rating 86%
Vulnerable road user rating 80%Safety assist rating 77%

 

Check out that score for adult occupant protection - 99%. Not only is it the highest score of recent times, it’s also about as close to 100% as any car is ever likely to get, nothing's ever going to guarantee 100% safety. It's also only 1% behind the safest car on this list for child safety, too, so that should help you sleep soundly at night if you're a new parent worried about keeping your offspring safe.

The Mazda CX-30 is also one of the best looking family SUVs you can buy, so you don't have to worry about all that safety making it a boring box on wheels. Here you can have your cake and eat it. And it tastes good.

All versions of the CX-30 come with multiple airbags, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and hill launch assistance. We don't expect you to know what all of these do, but rest assured that the car can keep an eye out for other vehicles, help to prevent crashes and warn you about vehicles around you. It’s not the most practical SUV of this size, but a classy cabin, bold styling and sharp handling help to make it one of the most appealing.

2. Seat Tarraco

Used deals from £22,800
Monthly finance from £358*

Adult occupant rating 97%Child occupant rating 84%
Vulnerable road user rating 79%Safety assist rating 79%

 

The Seat Tarraco is a seven-seat SUV that shares a platform with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Kodiaq. Compared with many seven-seat SUVs, there's plenty of space in the rear seats for children and adults who aren't overly tall, making the Tarraco a safe and practical choice if you’re after a smartly styled SUV.

Even the entry-level SE trim comes with autonomous emergency braking, hill launch assistance, two Isofix points in the second row for child seats, a third Isofix in the front, lane-keeping assistance and a tiredness recognition system.

The mid-range FR models add adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and keyless go, and self parking functionality. A rear-view camera is fitted to Xcellence models. While kit to help you park might not help that much in terms of safety, it certainly reduces your chances of bashing into things and hurting the car.

SEAT TARRACO BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Volkswagen T-Cross

Used deals from £15,995
Monthly finance from £247*

Adult occupant rating 97%Child occupant rating 86%
Vulnerable road user rating 81%Safety assist rating 80%

 

The Volkswagen T-Cross provides the proof that small can be mighty. Although it shares its mechanical parts with the Polo supermini - which is a pretty compact car - the T-Cross punches above its weight in terms of safety, with an impressive set of Euro NCAP scores to its name.

Crucially, you don’t need to fork out for the most expensive model to benefit from a good level of protection. Even the entry-level S trim boasts autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and automatic post-collision braking.

The SE trim level adds adaptive cruise control, tiredness recognition and automatic headlights, while the United and SEL models come with front and rear parking sensors.

VOLKSWAGEN T-CROSS BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Lexus UX

Used deals from £23,200
Monthly finance from £339*

Adult occupant rating 96%Child occupant rating 85%
Vulnerable road user rating 82%Safety assist rating 77%

 

If you’re in the market for an upmarket compact SUV, the Lexus UX is a stylish and tech-laden alternative to the likes of the BMW X1 and Audi Q2. The fact that it’s one of the safest SUVs you can buy is the icing on the cake.

All UX models come with the excellent Lexus Safety System+. This comprises autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance and automatic high beam headlights.

Some models also feature a panoramic view camera to assist when parking, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive high beam headlights, so keep an eye out for higher specification models if these assists are important to you. 

5. Skoda Kamiq

Used deals from £18,000
Monthly finance from £252*

Adult occupant rating 96%Child occupant rating 85%
Vulnerable road user rating 80%Safety assist rating 76%

 

The Skoda Kamiq, Skoda's smallest SUV, is one of the most impressive cars in a range that offers tremendous value for money. It’s also one of the most practical for its size, with a boot that’s amongst the largest in its class, plus plenty of room for people travelling in the back.

Although the entry-level S trim features autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance to stop you drifting out of lane, we’d recommend the SE trim. This adds cruise control, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and an automatic-dimming rear-view mirror to the mix.

SKODA KAMIQ BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Renault Captur

Used deals from £13,700
Monthly finance from £212*

Adult occupant rating 96%Child occupant rating 83%
Vulnerable road user rating 75%Safety assist rating 74%

 

Although it might look like the old one, the new Renault Captur is bigger and safer than its predecessor. Wholesale changes across the board make it a more desirable car, while a five-star Euro NCAP rating puts it near the top of the class in safety terms.

It’s impressive to note that even the entry-level Play trim comes with a substantial level of safety kit. Autonomous emergency braking, cruise control, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and hill launch assistance are standard equipment.

The high-specification GT Line versions feature blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, hands-free parking and front fog lights with cornering function.

RENAULT CAPTUR BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Range Rover Evoque

Used deals from £31,490
Monthly finance from £446*

Adult occupant rating 94%Child occupant rating 87%
Vulnerable road user rating 72%Safety assist rating 73%

 

Such was the success of the original Range Rover Evoque, it should come as no surprise to discover that Land Rover took an evolutionary approach to the styling of the second-generation model - they really do look very similar. But don’t let the familiar styling fool you - there’s been a revolution underneath the skin.

Even the most basic Evoque model comes with autonomous emergency braking, a reversing camera, cruise control, tiredness recognition, lane-keeping assistance, and front and rear parking sensors. More expensive models add traffic sign recognition, park assist and rear cross traffic alert, while the HSE trim boasts adaptive cruise control. You also get the reassurance of four-wheel drive on selected models if you regularly have to deal with muddy and slippery roads.

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Ford Puma

Used deals from £20,371
Monthly finance from £292*

Adult occupant rating 94%Child occupant rating 85%
Vulnerable road user rating 81%Safety assist rating 73%

 

The Ford Puma is one of the newest and safest small SUVs on the block. It’s based on the Ford Fiesta supermini, but the high driving position and chunky styling make it a rival to the likes of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

There are three trim levels: Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X. All versions boast rear parking sensors, cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and autonomous emergency braking. Options include front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and LED headlights - when buying a used car, it's worth checking the model you're looking at has these additional options fitted if they're high on your priority list.

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

Read more about:

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Cheap seven-seater cars

  2. Cars with the best warranty

  3. Cars with leather seats