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Whether you’re in the market to update your current family vehicle or are about to become new parents and making a switch over to a car that offers more space and comfort to ensure a smoother ride for your new bub, you’re bound to be after something that delivers superior levels of safety.

And just a few decades ago, the extent of ‘superior safety’ would be seatbelts, a couple of airbags and a decent crumple zone. But like everything else in life, there has been a pretty dramatic leap forward when it comes to safety features in cars.

Safety Features essential to every family

Not everything that’s deemed will make a car safer relates to those of us who are shopping for family cars. For example, while a full steel roll cage is an absolute necessity for WRC cars hitting snowy corners at a squillion miles an hour sideways, they just aren’t a practical addition to family vehicles.

So what are the safety features you should be on the lookout for?

Seat belts

Sure, while all cars are mandated by law to have seat belts as standard for every passenger, not all belts are built the same. There are still a few cars out there that will only provide lap belts (as opposed to lap/sash) in the middle rear seat, so avoid those.

Also, if you’re going to be using a baby capsule and/or child seats, be sure to choose a car which has ISOFIX technology - the safest option when anchoring the seats in.

Airbags

Another essential gimme, but like seat belts, not all airbag setups are equal. ANCAP suggests at a minimum, go with a car that provides front, side, curtain and knee airbags.

If you’re thinking about a 7-seater that has a third row, be sure to check how the third-row passengers are represented in terms of airbags as manufacturers can sometimes neglect that area of a vehicle.

Reversing camera

How many absolutely tragic stories have you heard before about people reversing over small kids who were playing somewhere in the driveway? A good reversing camera setup will help avoid these sorts of horrible accidents and also help a heck of a lot when parking, especially when teamed up with parking sensors.

These days, there are even 360-degree cameras which give you a birds-eye view of your car and its surroundings, allowing you to easily recognise obstacles and make parking easier than ever before.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Ever been in a situation where you’re reversing out of a car park and have bugger-all visibility of what’s coming on the road because of some behemoth car next to you (or worse still, on both sides!)?

A rear cross traffic alert system either shows you via camera or gives an audio warning when there’s a car, cyclist or pedestrian coming up to your car which is an incredibly useful tool in your car’s safety arsenal.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

It only takes a split second of taking our attention from the road ahead for an accident to happen. This could be in the form of quickly turning around to give your child their bottle of water, or to put their dummy back in their mouth. Just a second looking away and a car ahead brakes suddenly and…

Well, you know the rest.

But with AEB technology, your car will apply the brakes itself if it senses you’re advancing on a car or obstacle too quickly but haven’t yourself yet applied the brakes.

Lane departure warning system

Another super-handy way the car will give you a little kick in the bum should you become a little distracted and start to veer out of your lane without indicating is via the lane departure warning system. The alert can come in a few different forms depending on the vehicle including shaking your seat or the steering wheel, audio alarm, light display or a combination of two or more.

Driver fatigue detection

Parents can sometimes be a little sleep-deprived. But unfortunately, no matter how little sleep we got the night before (and the one before that), life doesn’t simply stop to allow us to catch up.

If you’re showing signs of wavering attention compared with your normal driving and have a vehicle with driver fatigue detection, you will be alerted as such and can then take appropriate steps to remedy the situation.

Adaptive cruise control

Cruise control itself is a point of contention depending on who you ask in terms of its usefulness.

Some say that when it’s activated, people can ‘switch off’ to a certain degree which is of course incredibly unsafe when behind the wheel, while others may argue that because you don’t have to pay attention to staying at or under the speed limit, you can focus on other areas of the driving experience.

Adaptive cruise control, where the car senses vehicles ahead and adjusts its speed according to them while maintaining a safe distance, can indeed allow drivers to give their feet a bit of a rest from the accelerator, however it’s imperative to keep your eyes on the road and be ready to make sudden adjustments if and when the need arises.

The hottest safety-focused family cars

Now you’re across all the safety features you should be considering in your next family car purchase, let’s get into the cars that fare well in the market today for their standard safety tech. And by the way, the inclusions we’ve listed are available across all model variants in each line.

Subaru Outback - from $44,791 driveaway

ANCAP rating: 5 stars (tested 2021)

  • Child occupant protection: 91%

Seatbelts: Front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, 3-point A/ELR rear seat belts, 2 ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.

Airbags: Dual front, dual front side, dual curtain, driver's knee and front passenger seat cushion.

Reversing camera? Yes ✓

Rear cross traffic alert? Yes ✓

Autonomous emergency braking? Yes ✓

Lane departure warning system? Yes ✓

Driver fatigue detection? Yes ✓

Adaptive cruise control? Yes ✓

Mazda CX-5 - from $35,567 driveaway

ANCAP rating: 5 stars (tested 2017)

  • Child occupant protection: 80%

Seatbelts: Front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, 3-point A/ELR rear seat belts, 2 ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.

Airbags: Front (driver and passenger), side (front), curtain (front and rear).

Reversing camera? Yes ✓

Rear cross traffic alert? Yes ✓

Autonomous emergency braking? Yes ✓

Lane departure warning system? Yes ✓

Driver fatigue detection? Yes ✓

Adaptive cruise control? Yes ✓

Kia Sorento - from $49,290 driveaway

ANCAP rating: 5 stars (tested 2020)

  • Child occupant protection: 85%

Seatbelts: Front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, 3-point A/ELR rear seat belts, 4 ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.

Airbags: Dual front and front side (all rows), centre and curtain airbags (first two rows).

Reversing camera? Yes ✓

Rear cross traffic alert? Yes ✓

Autonomous emergency braking? Yes ✓

Lane departure warning system? Yes ✓

Driver fatigue detection? Yes ✓

Adaptive cruise control? Yes ✓

Kia Carnival - from $50,890 driveaway

ANCAP rating: 5 stars (tested 2021)

  • Child occupant protection: 88%

Seatbelts: Pretensioners with load limiters (driver, front passenger and second row outboard), 3-point A/ELR seat belts (all), 5 ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.

Airbags: Dual frontal, side head-protecting airbags (first, second & third rows), side chest-protecting airbags (first row), and a driver knee airbag.

Reversing camera? Yes ✓

Rear cross traffic alert? Yes ✓

Autonomous emergency braking? Yes ✓

Lane departure warning system? Yes ✓

Driver fatigue detection? Yes ✓

Adaptive cruise control? Yes ✓

Hyundai Staria - from $53,685 driveaway

ANCAP rating: Not yet rated.

  • Child occupant protection: N/A

Seatbelts: Pretensioners, load limiters and height adjustable upper mounts (front) pretensioners and load limiters (all rear seat belts), 2 ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.

Airbags: Front and side airbags (driver and front passenger), front centre airbag, side curtain airbags (A and B pillars).

Reversing camera? Yes ✓

Rear cross traffic alert? Yes ✓

Autonomous emergency braking? Yes ✓

Lane departure warning system? Yes ✓

Driver fatigue detection? Yes ✓

Adaptive cruise control? Yes ✓

Toyota Rav4 - from $36,928 driveaway

ANCAP rating: 5 stars (tested 2019)

  • Child occupant protection: 89%

Seatbelts: Pretensioners with load limiters (driver and front passenger), 3-point A/ELR rear seat belts, 2 ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.

Airbags: 7 SRS airbags in total - front, front side, full-length curtain airbags and driver’s knee.

Reversing camera? Yes ✓

Rear cross traffic alert? Yes ✓

Autonomous emergency braking? Yes ✓

Lane departure warning system? Yes ✓

Driver fatigue detection? Yes ✓

Adaptive cruise control? Yes ✓

MG ZST - from $25,490 driveaway

ANCAP rating: 4 stars (tested 2017 prior to addition of updated MG Pilot safety system)

  • Child occupant protection: N/A

Seatbelts: Pretensioners with load limiters (driver and front passenger), 3-point A/ELR rear seat belts, 2 ISOFIX child restraint anchor points.

Airbags: Front and side curtain airbags (front row), side curtain airbags (second row).

Reversing camera? Yes ✓

Rear cross traffic alert? Yes ✓

Autonomous emergency braking? Yes (low speeds) ✓

Lane departure warning system? Yes ✓

Driver fatigue detection? No ✗

Adaptive cruise control? Yes ✓

Buy your next ultra-safe family car with absolute ease

Don’t have time to do all the legwork in order to get the hottest price for your new family car? Or maybe you’d simply prefer to skip the anxiety-inducing negotiating process required at the dealership. Either way, we’ve got you.

At carconnect, we have access to an extensive network of dealers right around Australia. Which means we can tender out your new car and request their best purchase prices to be put forward, at which time it’s up to you to choose which one you’re happiest with. Once you’ve done so and arranged payment, we’ll even arrange to have your brand new car delivered right to your door.

Need to sell your old car and get a great sale price? Our team can take care of that as well. So get searching for your new car today!

And if you’re after financing, don’t hesitate to chat with our finance team, who have more than 20 years’ experience helping Aussies find the best car financing deals under the sun.

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