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10 of the safest cars you can buy

Check out 10 of our favourite family cars that have five-star Euro NCAP ratings, so you can rest easy knowing your car is safe as well as spacious

It’s a fact of life that new cars get safer every year, but protecting yourself and your family from danger on the roads doesn’t have to cost the earth if you buy a nearly new car. We’ve trawled the latest Euro NCAP figures to pick out eight of our favourite cars which have earned a five-star safety rating. Find out more about how a car earns a five-star safety rating, or read on for our favourite safe family cars.

Volkswagen ID.7 (2023)

VW ID.7 front 3/4 cornering shot

Adult occupant rating: 95%

Child occupant rating: 88%

Pedestrian protection: 83%

Driver assistance rating: 80%

Volkswagen has finally unleashed its Tesla Model 3 rival to the world, and it could well be the brand’s best electric car yet. An improved infotainment system and efficiency are the car’s main focuses, with the latter helping to enable a claimed 435-mile range from the bigger 86kWh battery.

What’s more, VW has ensured that the ID.7 is up there with its newest rivals in terms of safety. Highlights include 95% for adult protection and 88% for child protection, which means the car is as mechanically comforting as it feels from behind the wheel.

Read our Volkswagen ID.7 review

BYD Dolphin (2023)

BYD Dolphin in blue

Adult occupant rating: 89%

Child occupant rating: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 85%

Driver assistance rating: 79%

Buy a BYD Dolphin and you’ll always find yourself answering the same two questions – what on earth is it, and why does it say ‘build your dreams’ across the tailgate, like a roadgoing live-laugh-love motto? Well, we’ll leave you to answer the second question, but we can answer the first.

The Dolphin is almost exactly the same size as the Volkswagen ID.3, and has similar stats – a 265-mile range, 201hp and a seven-second 0-62mph time could’ve been taken directly from VW’s website. But the Dolphin’s interior is a stand-out, featuring a riot of colours, shapes and textures that are unlike anything else on sale.

Of course, the Dolphin’s safety score isn’t up for debate. Actually, all of BYD’s UK-bound models have a five-star safety score – whether you pick the Tesla-rivalling Seal or the guitar-stringed Atto 3 SUV.

BMW 5 Series (2023)

BMW i5 saloon

Adult occupant rating: 89%

Child occupant rating: 85%

Pedestrian protection: 86%

Driver assistance rating: 78%

With so many new nameplates in the electric car era, there was a risk of the BMW 5 Series getting left behind or feeling outdated. The latest 5 Series comes as an electric BMW i5 for the first time, as well as more conventional petrol and plug-in hybrid versions – including a new 550e with almost 500hp and a 56-mile electric range.

It seems no stone has been left unturned in the new 5 Series’ development, including how safe it is – both for those in the car and vulnerable road users outside it. We’ll have to wait a bit longer before we drive it, but it looks like the new 5 Series is one of the most complete cars you can buy.

Shop used BMW 5 Series cars for sale

Lexus RZ (2023)

Lexus RZ driving

Adult occupant rating: 87%

Child occupant rating: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 84%

Driver assistance rating: 81%

Lexus’ first ground-up electric car is just as striking as the rest of the brand’s cars – perhaps even more so with a fat slab of smooth bodywork where the delicate spindle grille would otherwise be.

We’re pleased to see that adult protection and child protection are equally impressive. Its safety scores, plus its space and comfortable ride make it a top family choice if you can afford it and if its electric powertrain suits your driving habits.

Shop used Lexus cars for sale

Tesla Model Y (2022)

Adult occupant rating: 97%

Child occupant rating: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 82%

Driver assistance rating: 98%

Say what you want about Tesla’s build quality and brand image, but there’s no doubting it builds incredibly safe cars. The Tesla Model Y emerged from its Euro NCAP crash test as the safest ‘small off-roader’ of 2022, with a rating of 97% for adult occupant protection and 98% for driver assistance technology. Those figures were almost unheard of until recently.

It’s worth remembering that you shouldn’t rely on Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving tech (or anyone else’s, for that matter). While it is a good system in most scenarios, you still need to be alert and ready to take over from the car at a second’s notice. That’s true of even the best driver assistance systems.

The Model Y also scored 87% for child protection and 82% for pedestrian protection, so it’s a safe car for all involved. Tesla’s smaller SUV is heavily based on the Model 3 saloon, which also scored a very impressive five-star Euro NCAP score in 2019.

Shop used Tesla cars for sale

Hyundai Ioniq 6 (2022)

Hyundai Ioniq 6 driving

Adult occupant rating: 97%

Child occupant rating: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 66%

Driver assistance rating: 90%

Sleek saloons are having a bit of a revival in the electric age, and the Hyundai Ioniq 6 is an alternative to the VW ID.7 and Tesla Model 3. Inspired by classic streamliners – and armadillos, possibly – the Hyundai rocks confident and modern styling and a cool, lounge-like interior. Just avoid the digital wing mirror cameras – they distort the view and make parking a challenge.

The Ioniq 6 is one of a host of cars that shows you don’t need a massive SUV to be safe. Its adult protection score is remarkable, as is the rating for the driver assistance you get. Make sure you avoid pedestrians and you’re golden.

Shop used Hyundai electric cars

Smart #1 (2022)

Adult occupant rating: 96%

Child occupant rating: 89%

Pedestrian protection: 71%

Driver assistance rating: 88%

It looks like someone’s put lights on a marshmallow, and the name recalls the trademark of a dying social media brand, but the Smart #1 is a really quirky small electric SUV. The cabin is surprisingly spacious and the dashboard flows down between the front seats like a metallic waterfall. There’s even an animated fox on the infotainment screen, which is just what you need…

Good job the Smart’s safety scores are so high, as you could easily get distracted by the fox and the globe animation on the screen. Its 96% score for adult protection is one of the highest scores ever achieved on the Euro NCAP test cycle.

Shop used Smart cars for sale

Volkswagen Taigo (2022)

Adult occupant rating: 94%

Child occupant rating: 84%

Pedestrian protection: 71%

Driver assistance rating: 70%

Volkswagen makes some very safe cars, and even its smaller models will stand up impressively in a crash. The Taigo squeezes into the paper-thin gap between the T-Cross and T-Roc, and basically offers the same equipment, engines and driving experience as those cars. Nothing wrong with that if you prefer the Taigo’s coupe-ish styling over the chunkier looks of VW’s other small SUVs.

Euro NCAP tested both the Taigo and the Polo it’s based on, and it’s not surprising that they came out with similar scores. Both scored 94% for adult protection and 70% for driver aids, although the Taigo scored marginally better in the other two categories. The Polo is still one of the very safest small cars, though.

Shop used Volkswagen Taigo cars for sale or read our Volkswagen Polo review

Mercedes C-Class (2022)

Adult occupant rating: 93%

Child occupant rating: 89%

Pedestrian protection: 80%

Driver assistance rating: 82%

Mercedes launched a new C-Class in summer 2021, and this updated BMW 3 Series rival is the safest C-Class ever built. It eclipses the last C-Class’ five-star score with improved ratings in every area. Adult protection is rated at 93% and child protection is 89%, putting the Mercedes C-Class firmly on your list if you’re after a safe family car. Its other scores were both 80% or more, as well.

The new C-Class also comes with a seriously snazzy interior, featuring tech and screen real estate borrowed from the flagship S-Class limo. There are a huge range of engine choices, from smooth petrols to economical diesels and cutting-edge plug-in hybrids.

Mercedes is in Euro NCAP’s good books at the moment. The brand-new GLC SUV and the T-Class people carrier both scored five stars with over 90% ratings for adult protection.

Shop used Mercedes C-Class cars for sale

Cupra Born

Adult occupant rating: 93%

Child occupant rating: 89%

Pedestrian protection: 73%

Driver assistance rating: 80%

It may be heavily based on the Volkswagen ID.3, but the Cupra Born outscored the ID.3 when it was crash-tested in 2022. Its ratings for adult and child protection match those of the C-Class above, and it also scored 80% for its driver assistance tech.

The Cupra Born is pitched as a hot hatch alternative to the ID.3, with sharper styling, hot copper detailing and e-Boost versions with more power than what’s available in the VW. Once you’ve got used to the menus on the touchscreen, the interior is great – it does feel more special inside than any of its electric rivals. There’s a lot of space, and mid-range cars with the 58kWh battery can manage over 260 miles of range.

Shop used Cupra Born cars for sale