Revealed: The safest hybrid and electric cars you can buy

Sales of hybrid and electric cars are booming, thanks to their low emissions and running costs, but which models do the experts at Euro NCAP rate highest for safety?...

Hybrid and electric cars are some of the most advanced on the road.

Tesla model 3 crash test

But there are still big differences between the best and worst – particularly when it comes to safety.

This is highlighted by the crash tests conducted by the independent assessors at Euro NCAP. So, if you're looking for a new hybrid or electric car to keep you and your family from harm, what should you choose?

Below we count down the 10 models that have received the highest scores since the latest – and toughest – version of the Euro NCAP test was introduced. Plus, we reveal the hybrid or electric car which performed worst.

10. Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace driving

Jaguar's first electric car combines entertaining handling and futuristic looks with a big real-world range. What's more, it earned Euro NCAP's maximum, five-star rating, and most versions come with lane-keeping assistance, a blindspot warning system and high-speed automatic emergency braking.

 

Jaguar I-Pace (cont.)

Jaguar I-Pace interior

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 81% Pedestrian protection 73% Safety Assist 81%

Total Euro NCAP score 326

9. Hyundai Nexo

Hyundai Nexo front three quarters

The Nexo is unique among the cars on this list, in that it gets its electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell rather than batteries. This technology has significant future potential, but at the moment it's expensive – and, as a result, so is the Nexo. While Euro NCAP rated the car highly in all areas, its child occupant protection score is particularly impressive.

Hyundai Nexo (cont.)

Hyundai Nexo 2019 RHD dashboard

Adult occupant protection 94% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 67% Safety Assist 80%

Total Euro NCAP score 328

8. Mercedes EQC

Mercedes EQC driving

The EQC can't match the range between charges of the rival I-Pace, but it offers even better protection for adult and child occupants. It's a brilliant choice, too, if you want to maximise the peace and quiet offered by going electric: it really is incredibly hushed at all speeds.

Mercedes EQC (cont.)

Mercedes EQC interior

Adult occupant protection 96% Child occupant protection 90% Pedestrian protection 75% Safety Assist 75%

Total Euro NCAP score 336

7. Lexus UX

Lexus UX driving

Lexus's smallest SUV is offered exclusively as a hybrid, giving it low CO2 emissions and company car tax bills. What's more, every model comes with a Safety System Plus package, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and road sign detection. Unfortunately, the driving experience is so-so and the infotainment system and practicality are poor.

Lexus UX (cont.)

Lexus UX interior

Adult occupant protection 96% Child occupant protection 85% Pedestrian protection 82% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 340

=5. Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Design 2.5 AWD Automatic

Large SUVs are all gas-guzzling planet polluters, right? Well, not the Toyota RAV4, because thanks to hybrid power, it pumps out less CO2 than a 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta. The RAV4 also comes with automatic emergency braking, including pedestrian and cyclist detection, as standard, while blind spot monitoring is included on Excel models and above.

Toyota RAV4 (cont.)

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Design 2.5 AWD Automatic - interior

Adult occupant protection 93% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 85% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 342

=5. Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD right wide front tracking

As good as the latest RAV4 is, we reckon Toyota's family hatchback, the Corolla, is even better, combining its superb efficiency with a cosseting ride and generous standard spec. While the two cars get the same overall score from Euro NCAP, the Corolla betters its larger sibling in terms of adult occupant protection and pedestrian protection.

Toyota Corolla (cont.)

Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD dashboard

Adult occupant protection 95% Child occupant protection 84% Pedestrian protection 86% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 342

=3. Lexus ES

Lexus ES front - 68 plate

Modern luxury saloons tend to use diesel engines, but the ES is different, combining a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. This approach makes for a car that's whisper-quiet around town and when cruising on the motorway but a bit noisy under acceleration. The ES's suite of standard safety kit includes lane-keeping assistance, high-speed emergency braking and pedestrian and cyclist detection.

Lexus ES (cont.)

Lexus ES dashboard - 68 plate

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 90% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 345

=3. Telsa Model X

Tesla Model X 2019 RHD front tracking

Tesla's luxurious, fully electric SUV combines astonishing performance with very low running costs and seating for up to seven people, while Euro NCAP rated its adult occupant protection particularly highly.

Tesla Model X (cont.)

Tesla Model X - interior

Adult occupant protection 98% Child occupant protection 81% Pedestrian protection 72% Safety Assist 94%

Total Euro NCAP score 345

2. Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester 2019 front corner

Subaru has a reputation for building rugged cars that are very capable off road, and the hybrid Forester lives up to that tradition. However, it also scores incredibly well for child occupant protection and comes with a sophisticated driver monitoring system that uses facial recognition technology to warn if you're becoming too tired to concentrate or if your gaze has wandered for the road for too long.

Subaru Forester (cont.)

Subaru Forester 2019 interior

Adult occupant protection 97% Child occupant protection 91% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety Assist 78%

Total Euro NCAP score 346

1. Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 2019 RHD front cornering

Tesla is famous for pushing the boundaries of autonomous driving technology, so it's perhaps unsurprising that its new Model 3 scored so highly in the Safety Assist section. However, Euro NCAP found that it also performs very well when a crash is unavoidable. Together, these things gave it the highest overall score of any hybrid or electric car tested to date.

Tesla Model 3 (cont.)

Tesla Model 3 2019 RHD dashboard

Adult occupant protection 96% Child occupant protection 86% Pedestrian protection 74% Safety Assist 94%

Total Euro NCAP score 350

Find out the hybrid or electric car that performed worst in Euro NCAP tests in the following slide...

Aiways U5

Aiways U5 front

We won't drive this mid-sized SUV from Chinese start-up company Aiways until closer to its arrival in the UK (currently scheduled for late this year). However, the car has already been rated by Euro NCAP, managing just three stars out of five, due to the side airbag not deploying as designed, and so failing to protect the driver's head in some types of accident. Aiways claims this issue will have been addressed by the time UK sales start.

Adult occupant protection 73% Child occupant protection 70% Pedestrian protection 45% Safety Assist 55%

Total Euro NCAP score 243

Related cars

Hyundai Nexo

2019 - present

There's no doubt the Nexo packs some serious green credentials...

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