The safest SUVs and 4x4s

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, with the new Audi E-tron Sportback the latest to achieve Euro NCAP's maximum five-star rating.

Volvo XC40 Euro NCAP crash test

There are sizeable differences between the best and worst performers, however, 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.

=9. Mercedes GLE

Mercedes GLE front - 19 plate

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Some rivals are more practical and better to drive, but the Mercedes GLE has a dazzling interior, and on air suspension, is a comfortable cruiser. Whiplash protection is good, too, and the GLE has one of the best child occupant protection scores of any car tested.

Read our full Mercedes GLE review >>

Mercedes GLE (cont.)

Mercedes-Benz GLE interior

Adult occupant protection 91%
Child occupant protection 90%
Pedestrian protection 78%
Safety Assist 78%

Total Euro NCAP score 337

=9. Skoda Kamiq

Skoda Kamiq front cornering - red 69-plate car

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This small SUV is very comfortable and easy to drive, without feeling like a wallowy barge, plus it's well priced and very roomy for its size. All of this helped it achieve a five-star What Car? rating, and Euro NCAP rates it just as highly; standard safety equipment includes lane keeping assistanceautomatic emergency braking (with pedestrian detection) and seven airbags.

Read our full Skoda Kamiq review >>

Skoda Kamiq (cont.)

Skoda Kamiq interior

Adult occupant protection 96%
Child occupant protection 85%
Pedestrian protection 80%
Safety Assist 76%

Total Euro NCAP score 337

8. Seat Tarraco

2019 Seat Tarraco front

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The largest of Seat's three SUVs is enjoyable to drive and generously equipped, but it isn’t as versatile as the very best alternatives. On the other hand, it outscored both its Skoda Kodiaq sister car and the award-winning Peugeot 5008 for adult and child occupant protection.

Read our full Seat Tarraco review >>

Seat Tarraco (cont.)

Seat Tarraco XCELLENCE 1.5 TSI EVO 150PS - interior

Adult occupant protection 97%
Child occupant protection 84%
Pedestrian protection 79%
Safety Assist 79%

Total Euro NCAP score 339

7. Lexus UX

Lexus UX front

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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.

Read our full Lexus UX review >>

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

=4. Audi Q3

Audi Q3 35 TFSI DSG

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

Read our full Audi Q3 review >> 

Audi Q3 (cont.)

Audi Q3 interior

Adult occupant protection 95%
Child occupant protection 86%
Pedestrian protection 76%
Safety Assist 85%

Total Euro NCAP score 342

=4. Mazda CX-30

Mazda CX-30 driving

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The CX-30 feels as luxurious as family SUVs from prestige brands, despite being much cheaper to buy. Plus, it affords outstanding protection to the driver and front-seat passenger, with this earning it a 99% adult occupant protection rating. Just bear in mind that rear space is tight and the boot isn’t anything to write home about.

Read our full Mazda CX-30 review >> 

Mazda CX-30 (cont.)

Mazda CX-30 interior

Adult occupant protection 99%
Child occupant protection 86%
Pedestrian protection 80%
Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 342

=4. Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Design 2.5 AWD Automatic

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Thanks to its clever hybrid technology, this large SUV pumps out less CO2 than a 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta. Plus, it comes with a long list of safety equipment which includes automatic emergency braking (including for pedestrians and cyclists), traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assistance and an SOS emergency call function. Go for Excel trim or above and you'll also get blind spot monitoring.

Read our full Toyota RAV4 review >>

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

3. Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X 2019 RHD front tracking

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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.

Read our full Tesla Model X review >>

Tesla Model X (cont.)

Used Tesla Model X 16-present

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

Total Euro NCAP score 345

=1. Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester 2019 front corner

Subaru has a reputation for building rugged cars that are very capable off road, and the Forester lives up to that tradition. However, the latest version 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.

Read our full Subaru Forester review >>

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. Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen T-Cross driving

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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 joins the Forester at the top of 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.

Read our full Volkswagen T-Cross review >>

Volkswagen T-Cross (cont.)

Volkswagen T-Cross interior

Adult occupant protection 97%
Child occupant protection 86%
Pedestrian protection 81%
Safety Assist 80%

Total Euro NCAP score 346

Next, find out which SUV received just one star out of five...

And the SUV that performed worst in Euro NCAP's latest tests...

Jeep Wrangler off-road

Jeep Wrangler

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

Read our full Jeep Wrangler review >>

Adult occupant protection 50% 
Child occupant protection 69% 
Pedestrian protection 49% 
Safety Assist 32%

Total Euro NCAP score 200

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