The safest SUVs & 4x4s you can buy

SUVs can make great family cars, but which of these stylish, high-riding vehicles is safest – and which is best avoided?.....

With their tough looks, 4x4s and SUVs have long been seen as some of the safest cars on the road.

NCAP crash test image

But in reality there are sizeable differences between the best and worst performers.

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

Below we count down the 10 SUVs that have received the highest scores since the latest – and toughest – version of the Euro NCAP test was introduced at the start of 2018. Plus, we reveal the model which received just one star out of five. Slideshow story - click the right-hand arrow above to continue:

=9: Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace

Adult occupant protection: 91%

Child occupant protection: 81%

Pedestrian protection: 73%

Safety Assist: 81%

Total score: 326/400

In addition to its five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, Jaguar's first electric car gets five stars from us, because it's great to drive, features a high-tech dashboard and can travel more than 250 miles between charges in real-world conditions.

=9: Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover Evoque

Adult occupant protection: 94%

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 72%

Safety Assist: 73%

Total score: 326/400

It might look similar to its predecessor, but the new Evoque is a much better car, with a cosseting ride and a classy interior that's surprisingly spacious. Resale values are predicted to be incredibly strong, too.

=7: Hyundai Nexo

Hyundai Nexo

Adult occupant protection: 94%

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 67%

Safety Assist: 80%

Total score: 328/400

The Nexo is unique among the cars on this list, because it gets its power from a hydrogen fuel cell. As a result, the only emission from its tailpipe is water vapour.

=7: Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen Touareg

Adult occupant protection: 89%

Child occupant protection: 86%

Pedestrian protection: 72%

Safety Assist: 81%

Total score: 328/400

You might want to consider the Touareg for its comfort and space, as well as its safety. Just bear in mind that interior quality is disappointing compared with the closely related Audi Q7 and BMW's latest X5.

6: Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40

Adult occupant protection: 97%

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 71%

Safety Assist: 76%

Total score: 331/400

Volvo is synonymous with safety, and the XC40 shows that reputation is justified. But this isn't its only strength; indeed, the XC40 is such a good all-rounder we named it our 2018 Car of the Year.

5: Seat Tarraco

Seat Tarraco

Adult occupant protection: 97%

Child occupant protection: 84%

Pedestrian protection: 79%

Safety Assist: 79%

Total score: 339/400

The largest of Seat's three SUVs is enjoyable to drive, generously equipped and one of the safest cars in its class, but it isn’t as versatile as the very best alternatives.

4: Lexus UX

Lexus UX

Adult occupant protection: 96%

Child occupant protection: 85%

Pedestrian protection: 82%

Safety Assist: 77%

Total score: 340/400

Lexus's smallest SUV is offered exclusively as a hybrid, giving it low CO2 emissions and company car tax bills. Unfortunately, the driving experience is so-so and the infotainment system and practicality are poor.

=2: Audi Q3

Audi Q3

Adult occupant protection: 95%

Child occupant protection: 86%

Pedestrian protection: 76%

Safety Assist: 85%

Total score: 342/400

Unlike the UX, the Q3 is good to drive and immensely practical. However, the Evoque and XC40 are more comfortable, so we rate both slightly higher, even though it's the Audi that has the edge with Euro NCAP.

=2: Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4

Adult occupant protection: 93% 

Child occupant protection: 87%

Pedestrian protection: 85%

Safety Assist: 77%

Total score: 342/400

Thanks to its clever hybrid technology, this large SUV pumps out less CO2 than a 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta. Plus, our tests show its more efficient than its diesel rivals.

1: Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen T-Cross

Adult occupant protection: 97%

Child occupant protection: 86%

Pedestrian protection: 81%

Safety Assist: 80%

Total score: 344/400

As a rival to the likes of the Nissan Juke, Seat Arona and Vauxhall Crossland X, the T-Cross is the smallest and most affordable SUV in Volkswagen's range.

Yet it tops this list, scoring strongly in all four areas. Add in the fact that it's comfortable and easy to drive, as well as cheap to run and surprisingly spacious inside, and it should definitely be on your shortlist.

So there we have the safest SUVs and 4x4s of 2019. But what about the SUV that achieved the worst NCAP rating?...

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Adult occupant protection: 50%

Child occupant protection: 69%

Pedestrian protection: 49%

Safety Assist: 32%

Total score: 200/400

At the other end of the spectrum, the latest Jeep Wrangler was awarded just one star out of five by Euro NCAP, with structures in the dashboard thought to present a risk to those in the front, and the crash test dummy in the rear showing weak protection of the neck, along with high loads on the chest.