Which car is the safest in a crash?

Despite the many safety features incorporated in cars today, accidents still happen. Occupants sometimes die, and many get injured. Of course, we want to avoid these things as much as possible, so which car is the safest in a crash?

The safest cars in a crash are cars with good ratings in frontal crashworthiness, side crashworthiness, and roof strength. Other factors include car weight, head restraints, and electronic stability control. If the car has good ratings in these areas, you are likely to survive in a crash.

Cars with good safety ratings will survive a crash

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says a car will survive a hit if it has positive ratings in the following areas. Fortunately, most auto manufacturers are now producing cars to meet these standards to ensure car occupants’ safety. 

Frontal crashworthiness

Cars that meet with the federal government’s 35-mph head-on test on strong barriers are considered safe. Cars likely to survive in a frontal collision will also meet the 40-mph moderate overlap test carried out by the IIHS, especially into a deformable structure.

Side crashworthiness

Some accidents will also involve collisions from the sides of a car. Check out cars with higher side safety ratings, including cars with airbags to protect your head. Cars with a good IIHS side barrier test rating are 70% more likely to survive side crashes. Most models from 2008 and on come with side airbags as a safety feature.

Roof strength

Look for cars with strong roofs. According to IIHS ratings, cars with solid tops will do well in crashes involving rollovers. When involved in rollovers, cars with good roof strength minimize the chances of sustaining fatal injuries. Most post-2008 models have good roof stability.

  Is it better to buy or lease a car when retired?

Head/seat restraints

Models with good head/seat controls tend to lower whiplash injuries during rear crashes. According to IIHS, most vehicles with good head/seat restraint ratings have 15% fewer incidents of neck injuries when compared to cars with a poor rating. For maximum head protection, you should adjust head restraints to fit your head correctly.

Electronic stability control

Cars with ESC help drivers stay in control when taking bends or driving on slippery terrain. It significantly reduces the chance of a single-car crash by 50%. These standard features also minimize rollover risk by 80%.  You will find this feature in most 2012 and newer models.

Weight of the car

Smaller or lighter vehicles will usually suffer more in a collision than heavier ones. Aside physical damage, occupants of lighter vehicles are more likely to suffer injuries when they collide with bigger ones. And as such, it is recommended to drive in a car weighing between 3500 and 4500 lbs. These cars hold up well during frontal collisions, and their occupants are more likely to survive.

The safest cars in a crash

While the emphasis is on saving a passenger’s life during a crash, some cars also consider other road users. Simply put, they have safety features to protect not only occupants, but also pedestrians that are incorporated into these models. The cars below meet IIHS ratings to protect both occupants and pedestrians.

Safest small cars under $30,000

While considering safety is a top priority, you will, of course, also need to consider your budget. According to IIHS, these are the top five safest cars for under $30,000:

  • Toyota Avalon (sedan)
  • Toyota Rav 4 (mini SUV)
  • Nissan Maxima (sedan)
  • Volkswagen Passat (sedan)
  • Chrysler 200 (sedan)

Safest cars under $40,000

If you can afford up to $40,000 for a car, these may be options to choose from. According to Autobytel, these cars meet most of the safety ratings for vehicles whose occupants are likely to survive in a crash. They include:

  • Honda Odyssey (minivan)
  • Hyundai Genesis (sedan)
  • Toyota Highlander (SUV)
  • Volvo S60 (sedan)
  • Volvo XC60 (SUV)
  Why did station wagons go out of style in the US?

IIHS safety picks for 2021

IIHS says these cars are the best choices for those that care about safety. However, while smaller cars may have good safety ratings, they may likely not protect their occupants like a bigger vehicle would. This is especially true if the crash is between a small and large vehicle.

Here is the 2021 safe car list by category:

Safe small cars

  • 2021-2022 Honda Civic 4-door (sedan and hatchback)
  • 2021-2022 Honda Insight 4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 Hyundai Elantra 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Hyundai Veloster 2-door hatchback
  • 2021 Kia Forte 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Kia Soul 4-door wagon
  • 2021 Mazda 3 4-door (hatchback and sedan)
  • 2021 Nissan Sentra 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Subaru Crosstrek 4-door wagon
  • 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid 4-door wagon
  • 2021-2022 Subaru Impreza 4-door wagon
  • 2021 Subaru Impreza 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Subaru WRX 4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 Toyota Corolla 4-door hatchback
  • 2021-2022 Toyota Corolla 4-door sedan

Safe midsize cars

  • 2021 Honda Accord 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Hyundai Sonata 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Kia K5 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Mazda 6 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Nissan Altima 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Nissan Maxima 4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 Subaru Legacy 4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 Subaru Outback 4-door wagon
  • 2021-2022 Toyota Camry 4-door sedan

Safe luxury midsize cars

  • 2021 Acura TLX  4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 Audi A4 4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 Audi A5 Sportback 4-door hatchback
  • 2021-2022 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe 4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 BMW 3 Series 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Lexus ES 350 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Lexus IS 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Tesla Model 3 4-door sedan
  • 2021- 2022 Volvo S60 4-door sedan
  • 2021-2022 Volvo S60 Recharge 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Volvo V60 4-door wagon
  • 2021-2022 Volvo V60 Cross Country 4-door wagon
  • 2021 Volvo V60 Recharge 4-door wagon

Safe large cars

  • 2022 Kia Stinger 4-door hatchback
  • 2021 Kia Stinger 4-door hatchback
  • 2021 Volkswagen Arteon 4-door hatchback

Safe luxury large cars

  • 2021 Audi A6 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Audi A6 Allroad 4-door wagon
  • 2021 Audi A7 4-door hatchback
  • 2021 Genesis G70 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Genesis G80 4-door sedan
  • 2021-22 Genesis G90 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Volvo S90 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge 4-door sedan
  • 2021 Volvo V90 4-door wagon
  •  2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country 4 door wagon
  Best used cars with Apple CarPlay

How safe is an SUV compared to other cars?


What are the major causes of road accidents?

Too many cars on the road can cause accidents. Since people can afford fuel to drive and get better mileage, they would like to be on the road. Weather and road conditions also cause accidents. However, the primary cause of road accidents is distraction, especially with smartphones.

How can I avoid a crash?

Accidents cannot be avoided completely because sometimes they are out of your control. You can be the world’s most careful driver, yet another careless driver can bump into you. However, you can do your part by being alert on the road. Also, ensure all car safety features are in place before you hit the road.

What can you do to survive a crash?

The best way to survive an accident is to avoid it completely. However, if you cannot avoid an accident because you aren’t the only one driving, you can increase your chances of surviving a crash by doing these things:

  • Wear your seat belts.
  • Drive the safest cars you can afford.
  • Get an auto survival tool kit.  A seatbelt knife or glass breaker may be needed in the event that you need to cut your seat belt or break the windows to get out.

Osuagwu Solomon

When I am not writing about cars, I’m in a mechanic garage troubleshooting and fixing cars. I started writing automotive articles to provide accurate information to car owners and fellow mechanics.

Recent Posts