The safest and best-rated cars

Check out eight of the best cars that are highly rated for safety by experts at Euro NCAP, but are also great for other reasons

Sam Naylor
Dec 31, 2021

One of the best reasons to consider a car that’s less than a few years old is because of advances in safety technology. Newer cars are typically far safer than older ones, giving you peace of mind should the worst happen.

Of course, a safe car doesn’t necessarily equate to a good one - you need a car that balances safety with other considerations such as practicality, comfort and running costs. It’s no use buying the safest car in the world if it's incredibly expensive to run or has absolutely no luggage space for your family.

That’s why we’ve picked out a selection of the safest and best-rated cars - models that we rate highly for areas like practicality, technology, comfort and running costs, but that are also among the safest models you can get.

The reason we know which cars are safest is thanks to data from Euro NCAP, a body that crash tests new cars as they come out to find out how safe they are. Experts at the organisation crash test each car multiple times and rate them for safety assist technology which helps them to avoid an impact as well, then give a final score out of five stars.

As well as the star rating, you can also find individual scores in four categories: adult protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist. They’re quite self-explanatory - adult and child protection are about occupant safety, while pedestrian safety and the effectiveness of electronic assist systems are rated separately too.

All of the cars you’ll find below have a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, but they also have our seal of approval as good cars to choose. We’ve explained more about each car and why we picked them below.

Best safe cars

1. Toyota Yaris

Safest car for cities

Toyota Yaris Hybrid front three quarters view

Adult protection 86% Child protection 81% Pedestrian protection 78% Safety assist 85%
Used deals Limited stock

The latest Toyota Yaris is a brilliant small car. High scores in the adult protection and safety assist categories mean it’s a five-star car for safety but the Yaris is great for so many other reasons, too.

It’s a self-charging hybrid, so running costs are very low - it’s possible to get over 60mpg from its small petrol engine and electric motor combined. It’s quiet when running on electric power, easy to control and really comfortable and relaxing to drive.

The Yaris is also entertaining on a twisty road, has plenty of modern tech including smartphone connectivity and it has a good-quality and well-made interior. It’s good value and looks smart as well, so although it’s a small car and not ideal if you need a lot of space, it’s a great all-rounder otherwise.

READ MORE ABOUT THE TOYOTA YARIS

2. Polestar 2

Safest car for luxury

Adult protection 93% Child protection 89% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety assist 86%
Used deals Limited stock

You might not have heard of Polestar yet, but this brand is a sister company to Volvo, a company known for its safety credentials. The Polestar 2 is an electric car similar in size and price to the Tesla Model 3 and it’s packed with safety kit, plus it scored really well for adult protection and child protection in its crash tests.

The Polestar 2 is a brilliant all-round family car and its long electric range of around 275 miles per charge means it’s possible to replace a petrol or diesel car with this - rapid charging technology means you can top up quickly on long trips, and make the most of electric power’s low running costs all the time.

The Polestar 2 is a great car even if you ignore its electric motors, though - it’s luxurious, fast, good to drive, comfortable and practical. Its interior is very smart and comes with an Android-based media system that’s very modern and easy to use.

3. Honda Jazz

Safest car for practicality

Adult protection 87% Child protection 83% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety assist 76%
Used deals from £18,770
Monthly finance from £0*

The Honda Jazz is a small car but it’s incredibly practical for its size. There’s lots of space in the back seats for passengers and the rear bench is really well designed - you can fold it forward or back to create various storage configurations. It’s a fantastic small car if you have a tight budget but want a lot of space.

The high ratings in its Euro NCAP test mean it’s very safe and gained a five-star rating like all the other cars in this list. It’s also comfortable and really easy to drive, plus it has a much smarter interior than previous versions of the Jazz, which were quite drab.

Best of all it’s a hybrid, with a small petrol engine and an electric motor. This means it has good performance but more importantly, running costs will be very low and it’s really quiet and smooth at low speed. It’s perfect for city life or commuting in traffic.

READ MORE ABOUT THE HONDA JAZZ

4. Volkswagen ID.4

Safest car for families

Adult protection 93% Child protection 89% Pedestrian protection 76% Safety assist 85%
Used deals from £40,000
Monthly finance from £618*

The Volkswagen ID.4 is a family SUV with electric power only, and it scored very well indeed on its Euro NCAP test. It scored highly for occupant safety as well as on safety technology, because it gets loads of cutting-edge kit as standard.

It’s another family car option that we reckon could replace a petrol or diesel car because it has a very good amount of range - over 300 miles per charge on the top versions. It’s able to charge rapidly at public charging stations too, making long trips possible.

It’s also a roomy family car that’s comfortable and enjoyable to drive. Performance is good, it’s ultra-quiet at low speeds and at motorway speeds as well. There’s a big boot, lots of space in the back seats and plenty of modern tech included as standard.

READ MORE ABOUT THE VOLKSWAGEN ID.4

5. Land Rover Defender

Safest car for off-roading

Adult protection 85% Child protection 85% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety assist 79%
Used deals from £62,440
Monthly finance from £1,006*

The Land Rover Defender is known for its off-roading capability and this new version is as good on the road as it is on a dusty trail. The Defender is a luxurious car packed with modern tech and that includes safety kit, as shown on its Euro NCAP tests.

The Defender is huge inside in five-door form, so there’s more than enough space for a family, plus it has a big boot and a high-up driving position that many people will love. The interior is high-quality and packed with tech including a touchscreen media system and digital dials.

It’s also comfortable on the road, has good performance from its diesel engines and is pleasant to drive. Of course it’s still a brilliant car for off-roading, so if you need to head to some remote areas or drive across muddy building sites then the Defender is a great option.

READ MORE ABOUT THE LAND ROVER DEFENDER

6. Kia Sorento

Safest car for big families

Adult protection 82% Child protection 85% Pedestrian protection 63% Safety assist 87%
Used deals Limited stock

The Kia Sorento is a family SUV that is available with either diesel or plug-in hybrid power, but both versions are covered by its excellent score in Euro NCAP’s crash tests. It scored particularly well for safety technology, and there’s all kinds of useful equipment as standard on both models.

The plug-in version makes the most sense for drivers who can charge up overnight and use the electric motor for frequent short trips - maximising the proportion of time they spend driving on electric power alone - while the diesel version is better for long trips as it has a long range and low running costs.

The Sorento is a large SUV and there are seven seats inside, so it’s great for big families. There’s a substantial boot if you fold down the rearmost seats and the Sorento is good to drive, very comfortable, well-equipped and has a smart interior packed with modern tech.

READ MORE ABOUT THE KIA SORENTO

7. Seat Leon

Safest car for commuting

Adult protection 92% Child protection 88% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety assist 80%
Used deals from £15,500
Monthly finance from £0*

The Seat Leon is a very appealing all-round car that’s good at just about anything, so if you’re stuck on what to pick, this is a good place to start. It’s very safe according to Euro NCAP, too, especially for occupant protection in the event of a crash.

The Leon is closely related to the Volkswagen Golf, and that’s a good thing because it means that the engine range is wide and there’s an option for everyone, from sportier petrol models to frugal diesels. Running costs for every version should be low, though.

The Leon is comfy, fun to drive, has a big boot, there’s enough room in the back seats for passengers, it has a lot of technology - including smartphone connectivity - and it looks understated but stylish. It doesn’t excel in any one area, but it’s really good at so many things that it justifies a place on this list.

READ MORE ABOUT THE SEAT LEON

8. Cupra Formentor

Safest car for sporty driving

Adult protection 93% Child protection 88% Pedestrian protection 68% Safety assist 80%
Used deals Limited stock

Cupra is another brand that you might not have heard of, but it’s closely related to Seat, and is the company's sporty sub-brand. The Formentor is a sporty SUV that uses technology from the Leon, but with tuned-up engines - with either a plug-in hybrid option or a powerful turbocharged petrol motor.

This means performance is excellent, and it’s fun to drive on a twisty road. The Formentor doesn’t sacrifice practicality, though, as it’s still roomy enough to serve as a family car and has a big boot. It’s not uncomfortable either, although the Leon is smoother on bumpy roads.

The Formentor’s performance can be enjoyed in the knowledge that it’s a very safe car, with high scores for occupant protection. It’s a distinctive-looking model with stylish SUV looks but the fun of a high-performance hatchback, which could appeal to plenty of potential buyers.

READ MORE ABOUT THE CUPRA FORMENTOR

*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.

 

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