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When it comes to choosing the best family car, child safety is always an important factor. As parents, we want to know the safety and reliability record of our vehicle should the worst happen and an accident take place. The best way to check this information is with the European New Car Assessment Programme, also known as the Euro NCAP.
This independent organisation performs rigorous tests on most of the cars sold in the UK and Europe. During these tests, the Euro NCAP rates each vehicle out of 5 and gives a separate percentage score that focuses on four levels:
For this top 10 list, we’ve taken every aspect of the car into account, with a strong focus on child occupant protection. Please note however that some cars have still scored highly, despite having a lower score in child occupant protection. This is because we’ve also considered the car’s driver assist technologies – which should help prevent accidents in the first place.
With an impressive range of new technologies, like autonomous emergency braking (AEB), the cars of today are proving themselves far safer than ever before. As the safety technology in cars improves, so do the Euro NCAP’s safety standards, reflecting the growing changes in the automotive industry. All of the cars on this list:
With the above points in mind, take a moment to consider what you’re looking for in your ideal family car. Now read on to discover the top 10 cars for child safety.
The Volvo XC60 leads when it comes to safety, scoring highly with Euro NCAP who awarded the car with an 87% rating for child occupant protection. Whilst that’s not the highest score on this list, the XC60 comes into its own with its impressive array of safety assistance technology that should help prevent an accident from happening. As standard, the car comes equipped with autonomous emergency assistance which includes radar and camera technology to identify and detect potential collisions, automatic braking assist to avoid those detected collisions and a steering assist, which helps the car avoid any obstacles in its path. There’s even more optional safety kit to choose from too, like a semi-autonomous driving system to make motorway driving a little easier. No wonder the car scored an incredible 95% for safety assists and a whopping 98% for adult occupant protection – the highest score of any car tested by Euro NCAP in 2017.
Along with the Mazda 6 (sat in third place), the Mercedes-Benz A-Class scored the highest marks for child occupant protection. In the 2018 Euro NCAP safety tests, the A-Class managed an amazing rating of 91%. For adult occupant protection, the A-Class also scored highly with 96% – both very high marks to ease the nerves of worried parents’. The car doesn’t come equipped as standard with the same kind of driver assists as the Volvo XC60 but there is an optional driving assistance package that adds radar and camera technology. The technology can maintain distance between vehicles and perform an autonomous emergency stop when needed. Other features include Car-to-X communication which notifies you of any unseen hazards and sound technology, used to protect your ears in the event of an accident. Couple that with Euro NCAP’s ratings and you get a car fit for the most safety conscious.
Available as a saloon or an executive estate, the Mazda 6 scored highly with Euro NCAP in 2018. The car received a fantastic 95% rating for adult occupant protection and 91% for child occupant protection, placing it joint first with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class in that department. The Mazda 6 also comes equipped with some excellent safety technologies as standard, providing extra peace of mind. With it, you get braking assist technology, a blind spot monitoring system, a lane keeping assist system and radar cruise control technology. And to top it off, the Mazda 6 is great fun to drive and has proven itself as a reliable motor throughout the years.
The Subaru XV is a compact crossover that was awarded the best in class as the safest small family car in Euro NCAP’s 2017 ratings. Across the board, the car scored 94% for adult occupant protection, 89% for child occupant protection, 84% for pedestrian protection and 68% for safety assists. The Subaru XV features autonomous emergency braking as standard, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and a lane support system. You also get permanent symmetrical all-wheel drive for extra control and stability, whether on or off-road, alongside a reversing camera to make parking easier.
The VW T-Roc is another 2017 Euro NCAP best in class car, selected as the safest small off-road vehicle. The car scored 87% for child occupant protection and 96% for adult occupant protection. It also achieved a good rating for pedestrian protection at 79% and for safety assists at 71%. It’s well-equipped with useful technology to prevent accidents from happening and you can also expect autonomous emergency braking, a radar-controlled distance monitoring system and a lane keeping assist. Higher spec trims offer even more driver assists, such as a blind spot monitoring assist system, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.
Like the XC60, the Volvo XC40 scored a massive 97% for adult occupant protection and 87% for child occupant protection. It also scored 71% for pedestrian safety and 76% for safety assists. Although not quite as comprehensive as the XC60, the car still comes packed with impressive tech, from automatic emergency braking to alert systems that identify what’s around you. The Volvo XC40 impresses beyond its great safety rating too. The car has scored consistently high in reviews and was recently awarded the prestigious title of European Car of the Year 2018, as well as the What Car? Car of the Year 2018. But this top 10 is all about child safety, and as there are other cars that scored higher in that department, the XC40 comes in sixth.
Available as a hatchback or an estate, the Vauxhall Insignia comes with advanced emergency braking assist, forward collision alert, a lane departure warning system and pedestrian detection as standard. The car scored well with Euro NCAP, achieving 93% adult occupant protection and 85% child occupant protection. On top of that, the Vauxhall Insignia offers an involved driving experience and it’s also roomy and spacious as well, making it an ideal family car. In addition, the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport model is recognised by many as a leading family car in 2018.
The Subaru Impreza scored highly in the 2017 Euro NCAP safety tests, achieving 94% for adult occupant protection, 89% for child occupant protection, 82% for pedestrian safety and 68% for safety assists. Euro NCAP also recognised the vehicle as the best in its class as a small family car alongside the Subaru XV. Structurally, the Impreza is the same as an XV, just with a lower ride height. The two cars even share the same safety equipment so you can rest assured that both are well-equipped for your needs. If the XV’s off-road capabilities and higher ride doesn’t interest you then the Impreza is certainly the one to go for. It also proves better value for money.
The Ford Focus recently came in second place in list of the best small family cars on the market – but how does it hold up for child safety? The answer: incredibly well. The Ford Focus scored 87% for child occupant protection with Euro NCAP, which is actually higher than the car’s adult occupant protection at 85%. It also scored highly for safety assists, with a rating of 75%. The Focus comes with Ford Co-Pilot360 technology, a great safety system that combines a range of assistance technologies to provide a more comfortable and secure driving experience. Cruise control adjusts its speed according to sign recognition technology and lane centring provides steering assistance. Automatic transmission models even have the option of being equipped with self-parking systems.
The only electric vehicle on this list, the Nissan Leaf is a special EV that has proven itself as a leader in the electric car market. It’s packed with some great technology, like the nifty e-Pedal which allows you to accelerate and brake with just one pedal, reducing fatigue on long journeys. Of course, you still get the usual brake pedal for stopping to a standstill as well. As standard, the Leaf comes equipped with intelligent emergency braking, lane departure warnings and pedestrian recognition. Opt for one of the higher spec models and you’ll get a wealth of driver assists including self-parking technology. For Euro NCAP 2018 adult safety ratings, the Leaf scored 93%. It also scored 86% for child occupant protection and 71% for standard safety assists.