For many shoppers, buying the safest cars is one of the top priorities. And when you're not only transporting yourself, but also your family, the significance of safety becomes even more paramount. For this reason, CARFAX has put together a list of the top ten safest cars for families, according to the latest independent test results from the European Union backed European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP).
Understanding the Rating System
Before getting to the cars themselves, it's helpful to understand the rating system used by the Euro NCAP. Vehicles are assessed using the following four categories:
- Adult Occupant Protection
- Child Occupant Protection
- Pedestrian Protection
- Safety Assistance Systems
The four categories are designed to take all elements into account in the event of an accident, including people inside and outside of the vehicle itself.
Safety Assistance Systems
While the first three categories are somewhat self-explanatory, the fourth may be somewhat unclear. Essentially, the Safety Assistance Systems category takes a look at the level and effectiveness of the safety technology onboard a vehicle, which is designed to help prevent a crash from happening at all. Examples of this technology include electronic stability control, automatic braking systems, as well as lane departure systems.
5-star Rating System Explained
To determine which are the safest cars, all tested vehicles are given a percentage for each of the respective categories. From these results, an overall star rating is given between 1-5 stars.
Over the years, testing has continuously gotten more rigorous as the safety standards increase due to ever-improving safety technology and manufacturing methods. What this means, is that vehicles tested more recently, are held to a stricter set of standards as older vehicles. For this reason, it's not always possible to compare rating of the safest cars from differing years.
Safest Cars for Families: The Results
Volvo has maintained a great reputation for building some of the safest cars over the course of its history as an automaker. Through the use of innovative safety features as well as ingenuity in design and engineering, the XC90 finds itself atop the list. Scoring an outstanding 97% for adult occupant protection, along with 87% for child occupants ensures the Volvo does its best to keep people inside of the vehicle safe. On top of this, a perfect 100% for vehicle safety assistance systems really sets the XC90 apart from the crowd. While several cars on the list with smaller, lower body styles manage to best its 72% for pedestrian protection, this is largely due to the difficulty in shaping a big, SUV body to be safe for pedestrian accidents. Overall, the Volvo XC90 makes for the safest family car on the road today.
The Toyota Avensis is partially engineered and designed, as well as entirely built, in Europe. And while it isn't always regarded as being the best looking vehicle on the roads, it is certainly safe. The Avensis scores 93% for adult occupants, making it the second best vehicle in our list for drivers and adult passengers. Additionally, with a relatively high 78% in pedestrian protection and 81% safety assistance systems helps make the vehicle more attractive. And although, it also scores the second lowest out of the range for child occupant protection, the Toyota still manages to be a leader in overall safety.
The uniquely styled Infinity Q30 offers buyers a nice alternative to the premium German cars on the market today. It's curvy exterior styling and plush interior provide some additional flash for those in search for it. Adult occupancy protection comes in at 84%, child occupancy protection at 86%, and safety assistance systems with 81%. Where the Q30 really shines is in pedestrian protection. The Infinity scores a list-topping 91%. The use of technologies such as Forward Collision Warning and Forward Emergency Breaking contributes to the safety of both pedestrians and occupants. All of this combined makes the Infinity Q30 a good option as one of the safest cars for families.
The fifth-generation Audi A4 delivers some remarkable progress over the already good predecessor. In all area – styling, fuel efficiency, ride quality, craftsmanship, and technology, to name a few – the A4 keeps pushing forward in an effort to remain at the top of the pack. The same can be said in terms of safety. The Audi scores highly in adult and child occupant protection with 90% and 87% respectively. Both pedestrian protection and safety assistance systems come in at 75%. Altogether, this makes the Audi A4 a leader in not only sales, but also in safety.
Opel / Vauxhall Astra
The Opel/Vauxhall (depending on the market) Astra is a member of Europe's most competitive vehicle sector. With its full redesign, the new Opel/Vauxhall Astra can definitely compare, and it actually tops the competition in safety. Its five-star safety rating is comprised of the following scores: 86% for adult occupant protection, 84% for child occupant protection, 83% for pedestrian protection, and 75% for safety assistance systems. All of this adds to the Astra's appeal as a safe family car.
Ford Galaxy / Ford S-Max
The Ford Galaxy and S-Max, its smaller sibling, share the same platform, drivetrain, and engines. The Galaxy has a squarer, upright body, lending to a more spacious interior. While the S-Max sacrifices this boxy spaciousness in order to have a sleeker, more streamlined styling. Either way, both vehicle score equally well in safety ratings. For both adult and child occupancy, the two Fords scored an 87%. In pedestrian protection and safety assistance systems, the pair scored a 79% and 71% respectively. Regardless of which body style you go for, you can rest assured that you're driving one of the safest cars currently on the roads.
The well-built, spacious, and fuel-efficient Volkswagen Touran is also a top contender when it comes to the safest cars on sale today. Recently redesigned, the Touran now sits upon the mighty, versatile MQB platform, which is shared with many vehicles in Volkswagen's lineup. The safety scores for the VW are as follows: 88% for adult occupant protection, 89% for child occupant protection, 71% for pedestrian protection, and 76% when it comes to safety assistance systems. Combining a five-star safety rating, along with high levels of family-friendly functionality, make the Volkswagen Touran a great option for those looking for a new car.
The large, stylish, seven-seated Renault Espace is a comfortable contender in the list of the safest cars for families. While it may have sportier styling than the previous generations, the focus for this vehicle is still on driving comfort. Additionally, the high level of safety standards is also welcome. The Espace received a score of 82% for adult occupant protection, 89% for child occupant protection, 70% for pedestrian protection, and 80% for safety assistance systems. Overall, the Renault Espace is a large MPV which offers families comfort and safety with style.
For those looking for a large, safe family car, the Skoda Superb is recommendable. The Superb is the first Skoda to be based on Volkswagen's MQB platform, bringing with it many of the advantages of sharing platforms across vehicle lineups. With its handsome exterior styling, spacious trunk, and long list of available safety features, the Superb offers quite a lot to potential buyers. Both adult and child occupant protection received a score of 86%. Pedestrian protection comes in at 71% and safety assistance systems scores 76%. As one of today's safest cars for families, the Skoda Superb lives up to its name.
The new Renault Megane features a head-turning design as well as first-in-class technology. This helps push the family-favorite Renault into the spotlight. In addition to the redesigned body, the Megane features a great, five-star safety rating, making it one of the safest cars for families. With scores for Adult occupant protection of 88% and child occupant protection of87%, the Renault helps keep people in the vehicle safe. Pedestrian protection and safety assistance systems both scored 71%. The French automaker hopes to regain some of its fallen sales numbers, and it's possible the new Megane will help.
CARFAX Helps You Stay Safe When Buying Used Cars
Not all shoppers are looking to buy a brand new car. For those interested in finding a vehicle in the used marketplace, you can't always base your purchase decision on the safety rating applied to the vehicle when it was new. There are a lot of events which can occur over the lifetime of a vehicle which can alter the quality and overall safety of the car.
CARFAX aims to help used car shoppers make more informed purchase decisions by providing a comprehensive record of the vehicle's history. The CARFAX Vehicle History Report includes the following checks to help ensure you buy a safer vehicle:
- Accident check: This helps you avoid buying a vehicle which has been crashed. While the car may look good on the outside, this could just mean the body shop did a good job fixing the exterior of the vehicle. Cars which have been in an accident may have deeper problems than meet the eye.
- Odometer problems: If the vehicle has inconsistent mileage records, this could be a sign that the odometer was rolled back. Odometer fraud not only tells potential buyers the seller may not be trustable, but it could also be a sign that the engine has seen many more kilometers of use than you think.
- Inspection information: The CARFAX Report details the successful passing of car inspections to help shoppers feel confident they're buying a safe car. Vehicles which have failed an inspection may have problems, which could translate into spending a lot of extra money trying to fix them.
Additionally, if the vehicle has any history in the United States, the CARFAX Vehicle History Report also details the following useful information:
- Airbag deployment
- Total loss
- Flood damage
- Fire damage
- Hail damage
- Water damage
- Open recalls
- Title problems
- And much more…
It's always a good idea to do as much research as possible about a used car before you buy it, and CARFAX can help. The CARFAX Vehicle History Report is an incredibly useful resource for learning the details of a vehicle's history. Protect yourself and your investment. Check the CARFAX.