The safest cars on sale in 2024 - the latest crash tests

The safety tests for new cars were toughened up in 2023, making it harder for new cars to achieve the full five-star rating. Which models made it onto our list of the safest cars?...

Volkswagen ID 7 crash test

The European New Car Assessment Programme or EuroNCAP may have started crash testing cars in 1997, but the international safety organisation is continually enhancing and tweaking the tests new cars need to go through to be assessed as part of its safety rating programme. 

The latest round of changes were introduced in 2023, and include the introduction of tougher tests to see how well cars are able to detect and avoid collisions with motorcyclists and vulnerable road users in more complex situations, such as when a car is turning right at a junction and when it’s crossing the path of an oncoming vehicle. New night-time tests of active safety systems are being carried out for the first time, too.  

There is now also a requirement for cars to have a driver monitoring system to warn against drowsiness or inattention, and a warning system to stop the driver from opening their door and hitting a cyclist if one is riding alongside the car. 

New models should also have emergency systems that allow people to open the doors and windows after a car has been submerged in water. And extra marks will be added for vehicles that come as standard with an in-car system that alerts the driver if a child has been left in the car. 

To achieve the coveted five-star rating, each new model has to comply with these exacting new targets, as well as provide exemplary physical crash protection. 

BYD Seal crash test

The highest scoring model of the year is the electric Volkswagen ID 7 executive car that replaces the Passat saloon, which went off sale in 2022. As well as offering excellent protection for adults and children inside the car in a collision, the ID 7 has a pop-up bonnet that helps reduce injuries to pedestrians and cyclists should they be hit. 

However, the Nio ET5, a Chinese model due to go on sale in the UK in 2024, gained the year’s top score of 96% for adult occupant protection, making it the safest place to be in the event of an accident. 

Another superbly safe all-rounder is the Smart #3, which takes the second spot overall, scoring well across the board. Its 85% rating for active safety systems is the joint highest of the year, alongside the Mercedes EQE, the German brand’s electric executive express. 

BMW 5 Series crash test

In total, 17 new cars were tested in the latest round, with 14 achieving a full five-star rating. They included the new BMW 5 Series, which includes the BMW i5 electric model, the BYD Dolphin, Kia EV9 and the Lexus RZ. 

The three models that scored less than five stars were the Honda Z-RV, Hyundai Kona and the Vietnamese Vinfast VF8.

Here, we list the top nine safest cars that are either on sale now, or arriving in 2024, that have been tested under Euro NCAP's latest standards...

The top 10 safest cars

1. Volkswagen ID 7

White VW ID 7 interior infotainment

Adult occupant protection 95% Child occupant protection 88% Pedestrian protection 83% Safety Assist 80%

Total Euro NCAP score 346/400

The ID 7 is the safest car of all those tested under the latest EuroNCAP test regime. It gained full marks for the full-width frontal crash test, providing excellent protection for a wide range of people of different statures sitting in a number of positions in the vehicle.

It also excels in some of the newest tests aimed at protecting the most vulnerable road users. It has a pop-up bonnet that helps to reduce head injuries of pedestrians and cyclists should they be struck by the car, and its crash avoidance system is able to detect motorcyclists extremely well and avoid collisions with them.  

The ID 7’s active driver assistance systems are effective yet unobtrusive. They are a significant improvement over previous versions of the group’s active driver safety systems, especially lane keeping assistance, which was considered too abrupt and intrusive by drivers. 

Read our in-depth Volkswagen ID 7 review

Search Volkswagen ID 7 deals

2. Smart #3

Smart #3 Premium, white, review

Adult occupant protection 90% Child occupant protection 86% Pedestrian protection 84% Safety Assist 85%

Total Euro NCAP score 345/400

The Smart #3 is a longer, wider coupé version of the Smart #1 electric SUV that promises a slightly sportier drive and a sleeker roof line that doesn’t significantly compromise practicality. 

It’s also exceptionally good at protecting those inside and outside of the car in the event of an accident. The AEB system reacts well to the presence of vulnerable road users, particularly cyclists and motorcyclists, and it’s good at detecting other vehicles in the various test scenarios. There’s also a driver monitoring system that can spot various forms of inattention as well as fatigue. 

Read our in-depth Smart #3 review

Search Smart #3 deals

3. Mercedes EQE

Mercedes EQE SUV front cornering

Adult occupant protection 87% Child occupant protection 90% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety Assist 85%

Total Euro NCAP score 342/400

The EQE is a refined and comfortable electric car with a long range. The EQE 300 and 350 have an official range of 388 miles and, although you’re only likely to get around 325 miles in real-world driving, that’s still five miles more than a Tesla Model 3 Long Range. 

With strong scores in all four EuroNCAP rating areas, the EQE is a great safety all-rounder. It stands out for gaining the highest marks for child occupant protection, with its score bolstered by an automatic front passenger airbag deactivation system (most systems have to be manually turned off or on to accommodate a child seat safely), and a child presence detection system. In addition, the AEB system is good at detecting pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. 

Read our in-depth Mercedes EQE review

Search Mercedes EQE deals

4. BYD Dolphin

BYD Dolphin front cornering

Adult occupant protection 89% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 85% Safety Assist 79%

Total Euro NCAP score 340/400

The Dolphin is a small electric car that’s affordable, roomy and well equipped. In terms of adult and child occupant protection it’s up there with the best alternatives, and its score of 85% for pedestrian protection is only exceeded by the BMW 5 Series. 

As well as being fairly kind to smaller vehicles in frontal collisions, the Dolphin is designed to minimise injuries to vulnerable road users. Its AEB system reacts well to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and it will prevent the driver’s door from being opened onto a cyclist. 

Read our in-depth BYD Dolphin review

Search BYD Dolphin deals

5. Lexus RZ

Lexus RZ front cornering

Adult occupant protection 87% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 84% Safety Assist 81%

Total Euro NCAP score 339/400

Although Lexus has been ahead of the pack for hybrid technology, the RZ is its first bespoke pure electric model, so it’s great to see that it’s an extremely safe option. It’s also practical, good to drive, comfortable and quiet. 

In spite of its SUV styling, it's one of the most benign models when it comes to impacts with pedestrians and cyclists, and its AEB system scored maximum points for spotting those on two wheels and avoiding impacts with them. It is also able to prevent a driver from opening the door if a cyclist is pedalling alongside the car.  

Read our in-depth Lexus RZ review

Search Lexus RZ deals

6. BMW 5 Series 

Blue BMW i5 front right driving

Adult occupant protection 89% Child occupant protection 85% Pedestrian protection 86% Safety Assist 78%

Total Euro NCAP score 338/400

The BMW 5 Series has long been a stalwart of premium company car wish lists, and the eighth generation model looks set to continue this trend. It’s offered with mild hybrid engine technology and as a plug-in hybrid, while the i5 version should satisfy electric car enthusiasts. 

Although it provides good protection for its occupants in a collision, the 5 Series is fairly benign to smaller vehicles in a head-on crash. It also ticks the boxes for the latest safety innovations: its advanced eCall system automatically alerts the emergency services after an accident and the car’s brakes are activated too, preventing a secondary collision. There’s a system to send a warning if a child is left in the car, too.

Other road users are well protected too, with the active safety system scoring maximum points for spotting and avoiding a collision with a motorcyclist, and the car issuing a warning if the driver is going to open the door on a cyclist - and stopping the door from opening if an accident becomes imminent. 

The Euro NCAP rating is valid for all 5 Series variants, including the pure electric i5. 

Read our in-depth BMW i5 review

Search BMW 5 Series deals

7. BYD Seal-U

New Cars 2024 BYD Seal U

Adult occupant protection 90% Child occupant protection 86% Pedestrian protection 83% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 336/400

The Seal-U is a taller, wider SUV version of the Seal that offers motorists more space along with a competitive pure electric range. It’s expected to go on sale in the UK in spring 2024. 

In terms of safety, it scores strongly in all four rating areas, with exemplary scores for adult and child protection. It complies with the latest safety testing criteria, including the requirement to make it easier for occupants to get out if the car becomes submerged. If the car enters water the doors can be opened within two minutes of power being lost, and a hammer is provided so the side windows can be broken to allow escape.

8. BYD Seal

White BYD Seal front left driving

Adult occupant protection 89% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 82% Safety Assist 76%

Total Euro NCAP score 334/400

The Seal was one of the highest scorers for adult and child occupant protection, and it’s one of the first new models to come with a system that alerts the driver if a child has been left alone in the car. It also has an advanced eCall system that alerts the emergency services in the event of a crash, and it has a system that applies the brakes after an impact to avoid secondary collisions. 

This pure electric executive saloon is a strong rival to the Tesla Model 3. It has a high quality interior, comes with plenty of standard equipment and has a range of up to 350 miles between charges.  

Read our in-depth BYD Seal review

Search BYD Seal deals

9. Kia EV9

Blue Kia EV9 front left driving

Adult occupant protection 84% Child occupant protection 88% Pedestrian protection 76% Safety Assist 83%

Total Euro NCAP score 331/400

Although the EV9 isn’t up with the best performers in tests for adult occupant or vulnerable road user protection, it scores strongly for child protection and active safety. 

As well as scoring top marks for keeping children safe in the car, the EV9 comes with a detection system that lets the driver know if a child may have been left alone in the car. 

When it comes to avoiding collisions with pedestrians and cyclists, the EV9’s AEB system was good at spotting them in good time. However, a system to prevent the car from reversing into pedestrians is only optional, so this wasn’t tested or rated. The car does come with a system to detect and avoid accidents with cyclists riding along the side of the car. 

The AEB system is also good at detecting other vehicles, and the lane keeping support works gently to guide the car back into the right lane if it starts to veer off course. 

Read our in-depth Kia EV9 review

Search Kia EV9 deals


For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more: Best electric cars >>