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Some regard safety as the most important feature when buying a new car. Here are the UK's 10 safest cars

No matter who you are or how far you drive, choosing the safest car will most likely be a major priority.

Before going on sale, every car is put through strict safety tests run by the European New Car Assessment Programme, or Euro NCAP for short. It is judged from zero to five stars, based on scores for adult and child occupant protection, plus how well it protects vulnerable road users, and the strength of its safety systems. 

But which cars are the safest you can buy today? Read on to find out. 

10 safest cars on sale in the UK

1. Tesla Model S

Adult occupant protection: 94%

Child occupant protection: 91%

Pedestrian protection: 85%

Safety assist: 98%

Total Euro NCAP score: 368/400

The safest car on sale in the UK today is the Tesla Model S, which scores similarly to the larger Model Y but beat its electric sibling by four points. It came out on top with superb scores for child occupant protection and pedestrian protection. It excelled thanks to its performance in frontal, side and rear whiplash tests, plus its credentials for rescue, extrication and post-crash safety.

Read our complete Tesla Model S review

2. Tesla Model Y

Adult occupant protection: 97%

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 82%

Safety assist: 98%

Total Euro NCAP score: 364/400

The Tesla Model Y is one of the world’s safest crossovers, according to Euro NCAP. It scores a near-perfect 98% for safety assist - the joint-highest score for the category. It also scored 97% for adult occupant protection, 87% for child occupant protection and a respectable 82% for its protection of pedestrians. 

Read our complete Tesla Model Y review

3. Lexus RX

Adult occupant protection: 90%

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 89%

Safety assist: 91%

Total Euro NCAP score: 357/400


Read our review

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The RX matches the smaller NX for its safety assist score, but offers more protection to pedestrians, according to Euro NCAP. A score of 357 out of 400 means it's the third-safest car on sale today. Similar to other Lexus models, its interior is excellent and it combines real-world efficiency with accessible performance to good effect. 

Read our complete Lexus RX review

4. Subaru Outback

Adult occupant protection: 88%

Child occupant protection: 89%

Pedestrian protection: 84%

Safety assist: 95%

Total Euro NCAP score: 356/400

The sixth-generation Subaru Outback also achieved a 95% safety assist score, with equally impressive figures all round. It starts from £36,990 in the UK, for which you get lane assist, blindspot monitoring and traffic sign recognition as standard - not to mention decent off-road ability.

Read our complete Subaru Outback review 

5. Lexus NX

Adult occupant protection: 91%

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 83%

Safety assist: 91%

Total Euro NCAP score: 352/400

WIth an overall NCAP score of 352 out of 400, the Lexus NX builds on the Japanese firm’s reputation for safety. It excelled across the board, with 91% for adult occupants and 87% for child occupants, meaning it could be the ideal choice as a safety-geared family SUV. It’s also a very drivable car, with keen steering and handling, while the interior is as plush as it gets. 

Read our complete Lexus NX review

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6. Mercedes EQE

Adult occupant protection: 95%

Child occupant protection: 91%

Pedestrian protection: 83%

Safety assist: 81%

Total Euro NCAP score: 350/400

Another car with all of its scores above 80%, the Mercedes EQE scored exceptionally well for adult protection. It features the firm’s Car-to-X communication system, which communicates with other cars and informs drivers of potentially dangerous road situations. It also offers a range of up to 394 miles, with prices starting from over £70,000. 

Read our complete Mercedes EQE review

7. Nissan Qashqai

Adult occupant protection: 91%

Child occupant protection: 91%

Pedestrian protection: 70%

Safety assist: 95%

Total Euro NCAP score: 347/400

The Qashqai was one of the best-selling cars in the UK last year, and its safety credentials will be one of the reasons why. The crossover lost some marks for its average vulnerable road user protection score with no active bonnet technology, but its safety assist rating of 95% is among the highest achieved by any car on sale today.  

Read our complete Nissan Qashqai review

8. Volkswagen ID 7

Adult occupant protection: 95%

Child occupant protection: 88%

Pedestrian protection: 83%

Safety assist: 80%

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Total Euro NCAP score: 346/400

Volkswagen's long-awaited first electric saloon will rival the Tesla Model 3 with a brand-new infotainment software, a range of up to 435 miles, and the accolade as one of the safest cars on sale. It scored well for its adult occupant protection and safety assist tech, and excels in tests which aim to protect vulnerable road users.

Read our complete Volkswagen ID 7 review

9. Polestar 2

Adult occupant protection: 93%

Child occupant protection: 89%

Pedestrian protection: 80%

Safety assist: 83%

Total Euro NCAP score: 345/400

Polestar’s second car is one of the safest, scoring a total of 345 out of 400 in Euro NCAP’s safety tests. Its active safety systems were praised, as was its adult occupant protection. It’s one of the few cars you can buy today with all of its scores rated at or above 80%. An excellent pick for a safe electric car

Read our complete Polestar 2 review

10. Subaru Solterra

Adult occupant protection: 88%

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 79%

Safety assist: 91%

Total Euro NCAP score: 345/400

Essentially the same car as the Toyota bZ4X but with its own bespoke styling, the Subaru Solterra scored an identical safety score to its sibling. You should also consider the Soltera for its comfortable ride, user-friendly layout and decent off-road ability. 

Read our complete Subaru Solterra review

Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Assistant

Jonathan is an editorial assistant working with Autocar. He has held this position since March 2024, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow before moving to London to become an editorial apprentice and pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, travelling to launch events and interviewing some of the industry's most influential executives, writing used car reviews and used car advice articles, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, and regularly appearing on Autocar's social media channels including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

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Marc 8 August 2023
21 cars, both new and used in the 33 years I've had a licence. Never have I taken any notice of what the NCAP score is.
sabre 4 January 2024

I guess you don't care for your family, for passing pedestrians and for the the whole humanity. 

scotty5 8 August 2023

Agree with others, NCAP is now irrelevant.

Can someone please explain to me how a car that has the vast majority of it controls contained in tablet touch screen not even in line with the drivers line of vision, can make top 10 - twice!

Back in the old days, publications like Autocar used to knock marks off manufacturers who mounted their radio cassettes low in the central dash whilst cars like VW Golf were praised for mounting them higher up in the console. We no longer care about that.

Deputy 8 August 2023

NCAP tests are now just a money making activity for NCAP.  They award more points if your seatbelt buzzer has 2 tones!  They change the rules every 3 years to force manufacturers to retest at huge expense.  Some older cars dropped hugely in the rankings purely because they didn't have reverse pedestrian detection!  Hardly relevant when you get sideswiped by a phone reading HGV driver.....