The five safest used cars for new parents

Many parents-to-be have had to urgently swap their old wheels for a new family car. Here's some of the safest around

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Nothing focuses your mind on car safety more than the thought of having to take your newborn child home from the hospital, so it’s not surprising that 60% of parents-to-be change their car ahead of their new arrival.

That surprisingly large percentage comes from research conducted by Co-op Insurance. What’s less surprising is that almost half of those buyers cited better safety as the main reason for changing cars. More than 40% of parents surveyed classed driving their baby home from hospital as the most stressful driving experience of their lives, ahead of their driving test and the journey to their wedding.

In conjunction with Thatcham Research, the Co-op has been running the Safest Used Car Awards since 2016. In addition to the overall results released today, the duo has also put together a list of the five safest used cars for new parents, using a formula specifically devised to highlight child protection in crash tests and the ease of fitting child seats into the back row.

This is over and above their usual Safest Used Car Award criteria of having a five-star Euro NCAP score and autonomous emergency braking available as either standard or optional equipment, plus be available to buy on the used car market for no more than £15,000.

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So without further ado, here are the five safest used cars for new parents, which should all be at the top of your pre-baby car buying shortlist.

1. Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5 safest used car for new parents 2018

The Mazda CX-5 was highly rated by the motoring media when it was launched back in 2012, and it continues to be a good choice as a used car in 2018, being ranked as the safest used car for new parents. Mazda doesn’t sell as well as most of the European brands, but it’s well worth taking a look at a CX-5.

2. Volkswagen Touran

Volkswagen Touran (top ten safest used cars 2017)

It might possibly be the most boring car in the world, and it is made by a lying and corrupt organisation. But when it comes to child safety, the 2015 Volkswagen Touran is a solid choice. Just remember that the company tried to hide the level of toxins it has been pumping into your new child’s planet when you’re driving it.

3. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (top ten safest used cars 2017)

Traditionalists may still not like the idea of a front-wheel drive BMW people carrier that shares a lot of its underpinnings with a MINI, and it’s certainly not the prettiest car that BMW has ever built. However, the 2 Series Active Tourer has certainly brought new customers to the brand and those customers’ children are riding in a very safe car.

4. Nissan Qashqai

2017 Nissan Qashqai - front

The Qashqai has been the success story of the British car industry for the last decade, and it’s not just the Sunderland economy that’s being saved. The current-shape Qashqai launched in 2014 and has featured in all three of the annual Safest Used Car lists in overall terms since 2016. It’s now also considered one of the safest used cars for new parents as well.

5. Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4 2015 | Safest used cars for new parents

The Nissan Qashqai may be considered the pioneer of the family crossover here in the UK, but the real inventor of the category was Toyota. First launched in 1994, the RAV4 has become smoother and more sophisticated with each new model. The current model arrived in 2013, although it’s been facelifted and tweaked a couple of times since then.


You’ll probably have noticed that three of the five cars above (Mazda, Nissan, Toyota) are mid-sized SUVs, although they’re actually all based on conventional hatchback underpinnings. Parents do tend to love the idea that rugged-looking SUVs are safer than regular cars, but that’s simply not true. If you prefer a normal five-door hatchback to a faux-by-four, then this year’s Safest Used Car Awards includes seven choices within the top ten.

But regardless of what sort of car you’re looking for, the best advice you’ll find comes from Thatcham’s director of research, Matthew Avery: “Our advice to potential car buyers is to do your research, identify what is important to you and what safety features you want. And what is non-negotiable is whether your child car seats fit and can be safely secured.  If not, walk away.  Child safety is too important to compromise.”

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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  1. Read any article that speaks about the good features of the cars, and in all those list you will find BMW. My fav car as always.

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