Car safety is not the most glamorous of subjects, but it remains hugely important for obvious reasons. That’s arguably even more the case when it comes to choosing a used car rather than a new one, where crash performance and safety features might not necessarily be up to the latest standards.
To help safety conscious car buyers decide which model might be best, Co-op Insurance conducts an annual study to find what it rates as the 10 safest used cars on sale. It does this in conjunction with Thatcham Research, which runs the UK test centre for car safety organisation Euro NCAP, and has determined a list of criteria a used car must meet in order to be in contention. To qualify, a used car must:
- Have a Euro NCAP safety score of five out of five stars
- Feature Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as standard or as optional equipment
- Be available to buy used for less than £15,000
- Emit less than 120g/km of CO2 to keep running costs low
Any used car meeting these criteria will then have its individual Euro NCAP crash test scores considered, after which a list of the top 10 performers is drawn up. Below are this year’s 10 highest placed finishers, and thus what Co-op Insurance and Thatcham Research rate as the safest used cars on sale. Are any of them on your shortlist?
1. Volvo V40
Volvo is synonymous with safety, so it’s no surprise to see the V40 topping the charts. In fact, this is the third straight year the V40 has taken the top spot, although for the safest possible example Thatcham recommends finding a car equipped with Volvo’s Driver Support Pack. This will mean it includes features such as pedestrian detection and lane keeping assist to complement the car’s standard-fit autonomous emergency braking.
Search for a used Volvo V40 on CarGurus
2. Honda Civic
The latest Honda Civic has proved to be a hit thanks to its spacious interior, large boot and driving dynamics that ensure it is all at once fun, comfortable and economical. To that list you can also add ‘safe’, with Honda’s family car scooping second place in Co-op Insurance’s safest used cars study.
Search for a used Honda Civic on CarGurus
3. Hyundai i30
Hyundais have always represented good value for money, and the latest i30 is no different. That’s particularly the case when it’s a used buy, where it offers lots of equipment and whatever is remaining of the original five-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer warranty (subject to being correctly maintained) to go with its excellent safety credentials.
Search for a used Hyundai i30 on CarGurus
4. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
The front-wheel-drive 2 Series Active Tourer is probably not the first car that springs to mind when you think of BMW. However, for those in the market for a car that is practical, good to drive, safe, and a bit more upmarket than other five-seat people carriers it’s well worth a look.
Search for a used BMW 2 Series Active Tourer on CarGurus
Mazda has always done things a little differently, and so it is with the current generation of its Ford Focus rival, the Mazda3, which continues with large, naturally aspirated petrol engines where rivals have switched to smaller turbocharged units. Find an example with Mazda’s optional Advanced Smart City Brake Support and you’ll also have autonomous emergency braking to help minimise or avoid frontal impacts.
Search for a used Mazda3 on CarGurus
6. Volkswagen Golf
As what is arguably one of the automotive world’s great all-rounders it’s no great surprise to see the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf in this list. That’s particularly reassuring as there really is a Golf to suit every type of buyer, meaning that whether you want a frugal diesel or a rapid GTI, you’ll know its safety credentials are top notch.
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7. Kia Rio
The Rio is the smallest cars to feature in 2018’s study, its place in part a result of Kia’s decision to fit all models bar the entry-level ‘1’ with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning as standard. So, if you’re in the market for a used supermini that is affordable to run and one of the safest in its class, the latest Rio is well worth a look.
Search for a used Kia Rio on CarGurus
8. Nissan Qashqai
If you’re one of the many families who drives a Nissan Qashqai you’ll be pleased to see it still performs strongly when it comes to safety, despite the fact the current model has now been on sale since 2014. It’s just another of the many reasons the Qashqai makes an excellent used buy, while its popularity ensures there’s a healthy supply from which to choose.
Search for a used Nissan Qashqai on CarGurus
9. Nissan Pulsar
Hot on the heels of the Qashqai is the Nissan Pulsar, a more conventional family car that majors on the practical qualities of space, comfort and safety over an exciting driving experience. As prices of used examples on CarGurus prove, it’s also exceptional value for money.
Search for a used Nissan Pulsar on CarGurus
10. Vauxhall Astra
Anybody who has seen our Used Car Video Review of the Vauxhall Astra will know that we rate it as an excellent buy. That is sneaks into this list of the safest used cars only adds more weight to our recommendation, boosting the appeal of what is an exceedingly underrated car.
Search for a used Vauxhall Astra on CarGurus
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