Safest Car Brands and Models To Buy Now

One of the most important considerations when shopping for a daily commuter is safety and driver assistance features. Technologies in the automotive industry have come a long way, and now you can buy an array of advanced features that will make daily driving so much safer and less stressful. Recent models have so much to offer in this aspect, so a good starting point when you go shopping is knowing the safest car brands out there. 

This industry knowledge guide will also include a list of the 2022 and 2021 models with the highest safety ratings, plus another list of the most affordable SUVs and passenger cars loaded with essential safety features, what they offer and their price.

Safest Car Brands In The World

There are lists of the models that score the highest ratings in tests conducted by industry authority each year, but to exclude the outliers, you need to look at the bigger picture over a longer period of time. 

To put things into perspective, find below the top 20 car makers in terms of safety, based on safety data collected for over 5 years by the European New Car Assessment Programme (often called Euro NCAP), one of the world’s leading authorities on car safety. It is a voluntary organization responsible for carrying out real-world tests and damage tracking of new vehicles. The overall safety of a vehicle is assessed across different dimensions, including the safety of passengers, children and vulnerable road users, as well as safety assistance like lane support and speed assistance.

safest car brands and models
The overall safety score of new vehicles are based on crash tests conducted by official authority and damage tracking date. Photo Credit:

Here are the 20 safest car brands, according to tests and data collected by Euro NCAP:

  1. Polestar
  2. Tesla
  3. Lexus
  4. Genesis
  5. Volvo
  6. Subaru
  7. BMW
  8. Cupra
  9. Jaguar
  10. Mazda
  11. Mitsubishi
  12. Mercedes-Benz
  13. Audi
  14. Isuzu
  15. Land Rover
  16. Volkswagen
  17. Renault
  18. Honda
  19. Nissan
  20. Škoda Auto

You might see other lists, but they will always include the same names, albeit in slightly different orders, due to the difference in data used. Perhaps the few unfamiliar names here are the first, Polestar, and the last, Škoda Auto. Polestar is a Swedish EV manufacturer who’s owned by Volvo Cars, while Škoda is a Czech automobile manufacturer established in 1925 (and became state owned in 1948).

These manufacturers are also the ones that often have at least one offering that scores the highest safety ratings awarded by two leading authorities on car safety in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

And of course, knowing the safest car brands is a bit too general, since each auto manufacturer has so many models, and many models by brands not included in the above list do offer a good range of safety tech for their price. To put things into perspective, so as to make your purchasing decisions easier, check out the 2022 and 2021 safest car models by industry standards, plus the most affordable models that have all the essential features you need for safe driving.


Safest Car Models You Can Buy Now

There are crash tests performed by government agencies to evaluate a vehicle’s safety. They will assign each model a safety score, so that you know which models are considered the safest by industry standards, without the need to look too deeply into the technicality of the technologies involved.

The first one, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), receives funding by the insurance industry to conduct six crash tests in total. A vehicle’s safety is judged in two aspects: 1) how well the occupants are protected in an accident – “crashworthiness”, and 2) how well the vehicle can prevent a crash or at least minimize the impact – “crash avoidance and mitigation”. 

The highest award is the IIHS Top Safety Pick+, and to earn it, a vehicle needs to score Good ratings in all six tests. Plus, they need to get  an Advanced or Superior rating for crash-prevention systems, and a Good or Acceptable rating for headlights. 

Another authority that evaluates the safety of the latest models each year is the NHTSA, or The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a government agency that falls under the Department of Transportation.

Below are the cars with the highest safety ratings from these agencies. If you’re looking for as many safety features as you can afford, these lists might be a good starting point. If you’re on a budget but still want to enjoy this benefit, the next section will give you a list of the most affordable passenger cars and SUVs that are loaded with all the essential safety features, plus some.

2022 Safest Cars 

The following models not only earned a 2022 Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, but also a five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA:

  • Mazda 3
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Kia K5
  • Toyota Camry
  • Honda Insight
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Kia Stinger
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Acura TLX
  • Volvo S60 and V60
  • Lexus IS
  • Tesla Model 3
  • Lexus ES
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Genesis G80
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Audi A6

2021 Safest Cars

Here’s the models that have won a 2022 Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, just so that you have a few more options and the bigger picture. There are quite a few models that earned Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS in two years in a row:

  1. Acura TLX
  2. Audi A6 and A6 Allroad
  3. Audi A7
  4. Genesis G70
  5. Genesis G90
  6. Honda Accord
  7. Honda Insight
  8. Kia K5
  9. Lexus IS
  10. Mazda 3 Sedan and Hatchback
  11. Mazda 6
  12. Nissan Altima
  13. Nissan Maxima
  14. Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
  15. Subaru Legacy
  16. Subaru Outback
  17. Tesla Model 3
  18. Toyota Camry
  19. Volvo S60 and S60 Recharge
  20. Volvo V60 and V60 Recharge

All in all, remember that the best insurance out there is an attentive and informed driver. 


Most Affordable Cars Loaded With Safety Features

Safest Affordable Passenger Cars

2021 Toyota Corolla

  • FWD 5-seat sedan
  • MSRP: 7 trim levels, starting from $20,025 to $28,310
  • Standard features for base trim: adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, lane-centering steering, automatic emergency braking, road-sign assist

2021 Toyota Prius

  • FWD 5-seat hatchback (AWD available)
  • MSRP: 5 trim levels, starting from  $25,520 to $32,650
  • Standard features for base trim: adaptive cruise control, lane-centering steering, forward automatic braking, road-sign assist


Safest Affordable SUVs

2021 Toyota C-HR 

  • FWD 5-seat subcompact SUV
  • MSRP: 4 trim levels, starting from $21,595 to $26,650
  • Standard features for base trim: lane-centering steering, adaptive cruise control, road-sign assist
  • New-for-2021 standard features for base trim: intersection warnings, forward collision warning, emergency steering assist, low-light pedestrian detection, daytime cyclist detection, automatic high-beam headlights

2021 Subaru Crosstrek 

  • AWD 5-seat subcompact SUV
  • MSRP: 5 trim levels, starting from $22,245 to $27,995
  • Base trim’s standard features: adaptive cruise control, lane-centering steering, lead-vehicle start alert, rear-seat reminder

2021 Nissan Rogue 

  • FWD 5-seat compact SUV (AWD available)
  • MSRP: 4 trim levels, starting from $25,850 to $35,630
  • Standard features for base trim: blind spot warning, lane departure warning, reverse automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection
  • Standard features for higher trims: 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, hands-free lane-centering steering, rear cross-traffic alert 

2021 Toyota RAV4

  • FWD 5-seat compact SUV (New-for-2021 Prime plug-in hybrid model available)
  • MSRP: LE $26,250 ($28,015 if adding blind spot warning system), XLE $27,545, XLE Premium $30,250; Adventure $33,355; Limited $34,780; TRD Offroad $35,980
  • Standard features for base trim: adaptive cruise control, lane-centering steering, road-sign assist, rear child-safety lock
  • Base trim’s options: blind spot warning system, rear cross traffic alert


2021 Subaru Outback

  • AWD 5-seat midsize crossover wagon
  • MSRP: 7 trim levels starting from $26,795 to $39,945
  • Standard features for base trim: adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane-centering steering, automatic emergency braking, EyeSight Assist Monitor

Absolutely Essential Safety Features You Must Have

While you might be overwhelmed at all the wow-inducing high tech driver assistance features that the latest cars have to offer, it’s important to recognize that not all of them are of absolute necessity. Of course, if you don’t worry about budget and want to get as many techy features as available, all is fine. Otherwise, you can shop for just the essential features that you will get the most use out of in your daily commuting:

Blind Spot Monitoring

Blind spot monitoring is widely considered a must-have. No matter how attentive you are, you just can’t conquer your vehicle’s blind spots while turning and changing lanes. To make these tasks easier, a blind spot monitoring system will fire off visual or sound warnings to notify you when there’s another vehicle in your blind spot. 

Adaptive Cruise Control Down to a Stop 

Now adaptive cruise control has become a standard safety feature on most newer models these days, and very rarely offered as an option. It is one of the most basic features designed for long highway driving: it maintains a safe preset distance from the car in front by controlling your vehicle’s speed. 

What’s important to know is note that the majority of systems nowadays cut out below a minimum speed of 35 mph or so, while the best ones to have should function at highway speed all the way down to a stop. Adaptive cruise control down to a stop lets your vehicle brake in traffic down to a stand still, and most of them can hold you there until traffic resumes.


360 Degree Camera

You might think this overlaps with the blind spot monitoring system above, but they are different, and for the safest and most bearable daily driving, you should have both. 360 degree camera systems, also called bird’s eye view, multi-angle view and surround vision, are so essential that they are required by law for any vehicle sold in the US market. 

The system basically employs several cameras, which are viewed on a single dashboard screen, which makes backing into and out of a crowded parking lot so much easier. This makes these systems so much superior to your backup camera alone.