The Safest Cars to Buy in Australia

There’s a lot that can be done to boost peace of mind for a car you already own. Boost car security with aftermarket add-ons or some basic behavioural measures. Additionally, consider adding a dash cam. But for those in the market for a new or used car, there’s an even better safety step: buying a car that’s renowned for its safety features.

How to pick a safe car for you and your family

The best way to pick from the safest cars in Australia is by deferring to an independent authority renowned for rigorous car safety testing. We just described the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

ANCAP ranks cars out of five stars, with particular attention paid to safety features that protect vehicle occupants and pedestrians outside. The ratings change over time as new car safety features are normalised and technology evolves. For instance, newer cars are appraised in terms of how they can avoid or minimise potential accidents. Specifically, the ANCAP rating categories cover Adult Occupant Protection (ACP), Child Occupant Protection (COP), Vulnerable Road User Protection (VRU), and Safety Assist (SA).

It’s not just about everyday cars, either. ANCAP rigorously appraises the following vehicle categories:

  • Light cars
  • Small cars
  • Medium cars
  • Large cars
  • Sports cars
  • Small SUVs
  • Medium SUVs
  • Large SUVs
  • People movers
  • Utility vehicles
  • Vans

The safest cars according to ANCAP’s 2022 testing

At the time of writing, there were 10 cars that had received a coveted five-star ANCAP rating, all of which you can see in the table below.

Make and model
Vehicle type
Variants
Variant dates
Fuel type
Adult Occupant Protection
Child Occupant Protection
Vulnerable Road User Protection
Safety Assist
Lexus NXMedium SUVAll variantsJan 2022 onwardsConventional, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric91%89%83%92%
Mercedes-Benz C-ClassMedium carAll variantsFeb 2022 onwardsConventional91%90%80%84%
Mitsubishi OutlanderMedium SUVAll ZM variantsOct 2021 onwardsConventional and plug-in hybrid electric83%92%81%83%
Toyota LandcruiserLarge SUVAll 300 Series variants (excl. GR Sport)Oct 2021 onwardsConventional89%88%81%77%
GWM Haval H6Medium SUVAll variantsMar 2021 onwardsConventional and hybrid90%88%73%81%
Kia EV6Large SUVAll variantsFeb 2022 onwardsElectric90%87%64%88%
Volkswagen MultivanPeople moverNew Zealand PHEV variantsMay 2022 onwardsPlug-in hybrid electric90%89%69%79%
Hyundai PalisadeLarge SUVAll Australian variantsAug 2022 onwardsConventional84%88%62%83%
Volkswagen PoloLight CarAll Australian variantsMay 2022 onwardsConventional94%80%70%70%
Kia SportageMedium SUVAll variantsNov 2021 onwardsConventional87%87%66%74%

Collectively, the Lexus NX had the most safety percentage points, with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class in second place and the Mitsubishi Outlander in third. For the individual safety categories, top marks went to the Volkswagen Polo for AOC, Mitsubishi Outlander for COP, while the Lexus NX had the highest scores for VRU and SA.

The safest cars according to ANCAP’s 2021 testing

In 2021, ANCAP awarded five-star safety ratings to 18 of the vehicles it tested. The table below outlines the specifics of how they were scored.

Make and model
Vehicle type
Variants
Variant dates
Fuel type
Adult Occupant Protection
Child Occupant Protection
Vulnerable Road User Protection
Safety Assist
Subaru OutbackLarge SUVAll variantsMay 2021 onwardsConventional88%91%84%96%
Polestar 2Medium carAll variantsFeb 2022 onwardsElectric92%87%80%82%
Toyota MiraiLarge carAll variantsApr 2021 onwardsElectric and hydrogen88%87%80%83%
Toyota Kluger / HighlanderLarge SUVAll variantsJune 2022 onwardsConventional and hybrid90%88%76%82%
Genesis G80Large car2.2-litre diesel and 2.5-litre petrol onlyDec 2020 onwardsConventional91%86%77%80%
Toyota Yaris CrossSmall SUVAll variantsNov 2020 onwardsConventional and hybrid86%86%78%82%
BMW iXMedium SUVAll variantsNov 2021 onwardsElectric91%88%73%78%
Cupra FormentorSmall SUVNew Zealand variantsJun 2021 onwardsConventional93%88%68%80%
Genesis GV70Medium SUV2.2-litre diesel and 2.5-litre petrol onlyJun 2021 onwardsConventional89%89%64%87%
Kia CarnivalPeople moverAll variantsJan 2021 onwardsConventional90%88%68%82%
Hyundai Ioniq 5Medium SUVAll variantsSept 2021 onwardsElectric88%87%63%89%
Genesis GV80Large SUVAWD 2.5-litre petrol and 3-litre diesel onlyDec 2020 onwardsConventional91%88%66%79%
Volkswagen CaddyPeople moverAll MPV people-mover variantsJune 2021 onwardsConventional84%86%69%79%
GWM UteUtility vehicleAll dual-cab built from Aug 2021Oct 2021 onwardsConventional86%87%67%73%
Hyundai StariaPeople moverAll variantsAug 2021 onwardsConventional85%86%65%74%
Hyundai TucsonMedium SUVAll variantsMay 2021 onwardsConventional86%87%66%70%
Skoda FabiaSmall carAll variantsJune 2022 onwardsConventional85%81%70%71%
Hyundai Staria-LoadVanAutomatic onlyAug 2021 onwardsConventional85%N/A65%74%

The Subaru Outback scored the most percentage points accumulatively, with the Polestar 2 in second place and the Toyota Mirai not far behind in third. For specific categories, the Cupra Formentor had the highest rating for AOC, but the Subaru Outback scored highest for COP, VRU, and SA categories.

The safest cars according to ANCAP’s 2020 testing

In 2020, ANCAP found that 10 cars were worthy of its five-star rating. Check out the table below for an individual breakdown of how each five-star vehicle scored.

Make and model
Vehicle type
Variants
Variant dates
Fuel type
Adult Occupant Protection
Child Occupant Protection
Vulnerable Road User Protection
Safety Assist
Toyota YarisLight carAll variants (excl. GR Yaris and GR Yaris Rallye)Aug 2020 onwardsConventional and hybrid86%87%78%87%
SEAT LeonSmall carSportstourer variant NZ July 2021 onwardsConventional92%88%71%80%
Cupra LeonSmall carNew Zealand variantsJuly 2021 onwardsConventional91%88%71%80%
Isuzu MU-XLarge SUVAll variantsAug 2021 onwardsConventional87%85%69%84%
Isuzu D-MaxUtility vehicleAll variantsSept 2020 onwardsConventional83%89%69%84%
Mazda BT-50Utility vehicleAll variants (excl. Thunder)Oct 2020 onwardsConventional83%89%67%84%
Mazda MX-30Small SUVAll variantsMay 2021 onwardsElectric and hybrid93%87%68%74%
Land Rover DefenderLarge SUVAll variants (excl. 110 Hard Top)Aug 2020 onwardsConventional85%88%71%76%
Kia SorentoLarge SUVAll variantsAug 2020 onwardsConventional, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric82%85%63%89%
Audi A3Small car2WD onlyJuly 2021 onwardsConventional89%81%68%73%

Accumulatively, the Toyota Yaris scored the most safety percentage points from ANCAP’s tests, with the SEAT Leon and Cupra Leon in second and third place, respectively. For individual categories, the Mazda MX-30 scored highest for AOP, the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 tied for COP, the Toyota Yaris for VRU, and the Kia Sorento for SA.

FAQ

According to ANCAP, the safest 2022 car for adult occupants is the Volkswagen Polo (May 2022 onwards) and the safest car for child occupants is the Mitsubishi Outlander (October 2021 onwards). The safest car for protecting pedestrians is the Lexus NX (January 2022 onwards), which also has the best safety assists for preventing or minimising a crash.
The cars with the highest ratings for adult occupants, child occupants, and safety assists are the safest in a crash. For 2022 models, consider the Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Kia EV6.
At the time of writing, Australia’s safest car is the Lexus NX (all variants from January 2022 onwards). It scored 91% for protecting adult occupants, 89% for protecting child occupants, 83% for pedestrian protection, and 92% for safety assist.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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