Independent, impartial advice for car buyers and car owners

Find an Expert Rating: 

Volvo V40 wins safest used car award (again)

Third straight win for Volvo's stylish mid-size hatch

Our Expert Partners

Motorway 600x300

Sell your car with Motorway
Find out more

Motors 600x300

Find your next car with Motors
Find out more

Leasing dot com 600x300

Car leasing offers from Leasing.com
Find out more

ALA Insurance logo 2022 600x300

Warranty and GAP from ALA Insurance
Find out more

MotorEasy logo 300x150

Warranty, servicing and tyres from MotorEasy
Find out more

Mycardirect subscriptions – 600x300

Carsubscriptions from Mycardirect
Find out more


The Volvo V40 has been awarded the title of Safest Used Car by Co-op Insurance and Thatcham Research for the third year in a row.

The Safest Used Car Awards were launched by Co-op Insurance in 2016 and are based on a ranking formula devised by the Co-op and Thatcham Research, the UK’s independent car safety authority. Last year, there was a specific list for the safest first used cars, and this year Co-op and Thatcham have come up with a list of the safest five used cars for new parents.

The minimum criteria for consideration in the Safest Used Car Awards are: a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating; CO2 emissions of no more than 120 g/km; and the car must be available to purchase on the second-hand market for no more than £15,000.

The long list of cars is then whittled down to a Top Ten by evaluating specific ratings for adult, child and pedestrian protection, as well the availability of autonomous emergency braking as either standard or optional equipment.

The final ten cars to make the list are as follows:

1. Volvo V40 (with safety pack)

Volvo V40 wins safest used car award 2018

The Volvo V40 remains undefeated in the Safest Used Car Awards, with its third victory in three years. However, it is important to note that the ranking is based on the car being fitted with the optional Driver Assist Pack, which adds extras like blind spot assist and adaptive cruise control. This was a £2,000 option on a new V40, so only a minority of used cars on the market will be fitted with this comprehensive safety-enhancing package.

2. Honda Civic

Honda Civic 2015 | The Car Expert

After dropping out of the top ten last year, the Swindon-built Honda Civic has certainly bounced back. Jumping back up into second place partly reflects pricing. The previous-generation Civic was replaced last year by an all-new model, which means that used car prices for high-spec versions of the older model have now fallen under the £15,000 threshold to be eligible.

3. Hyundai i30

Hyundai i30 hatch 2014 | The Car Expert

The Hyundai i30 is another new entry in this year’s list. This model ran from 2012 to 2017, with a facelift appearing in 2015. This era of i30 was a key model in Hyundai stepping up from being a budget brand to a serious mainstream player in the UK market.

4. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer review (The Car Expert)

The 2 Series moves up a spot in this year’s Safest Used Car Awards. 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, it has certainly brought new customers to the brand and those customers are driving a very safe car.

5. Mazda3

Mazda3 on road

The Mazda3 still tends to fly under the radar here in the UK, which is a shame as it’s a very good car and better than many better-selling vehicles. It’s dropped back three spots from last year’s runner-up result, but it’s still worth a look. Skip the entry-level models that don’t get autonomous emergency braking, and look to the higher-spec models that also offer extras like lane departure and blind spot warnings.

6. Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf, Co-Op Safest Used Car Awards 2018

Volkswagen may have been exposed as a company with zero moral values in recent years, but it still knows how to build a good car – and it can’t cheat the Euro NCAP crash tests, so customers can at least be sure that its five-star safety rating is valid. The Golf moves up one place over last year’s rankings.

7. Kia Rio

Kia Rio 2014 | The Car Expert

The fourth new entry on this year’s list is the Kia Rio. Launched in 2011 and replaced last year, the third-generation Rio hatchback represents excellent value for money as a safe used car and is the top-ranked supermini on this list. So if you were thinking about a used Ford Fiesta (the most popular used car in the country), you should give the little Kia a look.

8. Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai (top ten safest used cars 2017)

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 Qashqai has featured in all three of the annual Safest Used Car lists, hanging onto its eighth position from last year’s Safest Used Car Awards.

9. Nissan Pulsar

Nissan Pulsar 2015 | The Car Expert

Conversely, the Nissan Pulsar hasn’t had anything like the success that the Qashqai has seen. It’s worth tracking one down, however, as it’s another new entry in this year’s list.

10. Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra, top ten 2017

The latest-generation Vauxhall Astra rounds out the top ten list of safest used cars. Launched in 2015, the current Astra is dramatically better than the previous model, with safety one of the big improvements.


So there you have it. If you’re looking for a used five-door family hatchback then you’ve come to the right place, as seven out of the top ten fill that very category. If you’d prefer a car that looks a bit more rough and tough (even if it isn’t really), then today’s list of the five safest used cars for new parents includes three mid-size SUVs.

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. ”

The latest from The Car Expert

Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
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.