How safe is your car? ANCAP vehicle safety ratings explained

Ford Ranger being crash tested by ANCAP

Tianna Nadalin

Posted January 24, 2023

Looking to buy a new car? Australia’s leading independent vehicle safety authority, ANCAP, has crash tested thousands of cars to help you make the safest choice.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is Australia’s leading vehicle safety advocate. The independent, non-regulatory authority was established in 1992 and has been scientifically cash-testing vehicles since 1993.  

Over its 30-year history, ANCAP has assessed the safety and performance of more than 1,000 models and crash-tested thousands of cars in order to provide Australian and New Zealand consumers with independent vehicle safety information through its highly regarded ANCAP safety ratings. 

According to the Economic Connections (ECON) Report on ANCAP’s Role to Reduce Road Trauma (August 2022), ANCAP’s encouragement of autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keep assist, and centre airbag technologies is estimated to have contributed to 22 fewer fatalities and 571 fewer serious injuries on Australian roads between 2019 and 2021.

ANCAP Chief Executive Officer, Carla Hoorweg says ANCAP’s rating program enhances the safety of the Australasian vehicle fleet by encouraging fitment of safety technologies ahead of government regulation. 

“We know the continued injection of the safest vehicles onto our roads has tangible road safety and economic benefits, and this strong performance of models rated over the past three years will see even an even greater number of lives saved and serious injuries avoided.”

What were the safest new cars in 2022?

In its latest round of assessments, ANCAP tested 33 models, 30 of which achieved the maximum five-star safety rating.

Of the cars tested in 2022, the Tesla Model Y was named Australia’s safest car overall with the top-selling EV achieving the highest scores in the Adult Occupant Protection (97%) and Safety Assist (98%) assessment areas, and an overall weighted score of 92.6 per cent. The Lexus NX, LDV MIFA 9 and LDV MIFA rounded out the top three scorers. 

Of the 69 vehicle models rated by ANCAP over the past three years, 88 per cent achieved a maximum five-star rating, 45 per cent of which have alternative-powered drivetrains. 

  • Tesla Model Y achieved the highest scores in the Adult Occupant Protection (97%) and Safety Assist (98 per cent) assessment areas.
  • Ford Ranger, Ford Everest, Nissan Qashqai and Nissan Pathfinder shared the highest score for Child Occupant Protection (93 per cent).
  • Toyota Corolla Cross achieved the highest score for Vulnerable Road User Protection (87 per cent).

ANCAP's Carla Hoorweg says these days most new vehicles sold achieve a five-star ANCAP rating.

“This clearly shows the desire and commitment of vehicle manufacturers to offer the safest vehicles they can into the Australian and New Zealand markets, and the continued appetite of consumers and fleet buyers who expect the highest level of safety,” Ms Hoorweg said.

RACV’s General Manager of Automotive Services, Jackie Pedersen, says ANCAP safety ratings should be a primary consideration for anyone looking to purchase a new vehicle. 

“The simplest way to see how your vehicle stacks up when it comes to safety is to check how many stars it has earned,” she says. “The higher the ANCAP safety rating, the higher your chance of avoiding injury, or worse, in the event of a crash.”

If you’re looking to buy a new car, here’s what you need to know about ANCAP’s vehicle safety ratings.

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Ford Ranger in a side-on collision crash test performed by ANCAP

The more stars a vehicle has, the higher it scored in ANCAP testing. Photo: Supplied.

What do ANCAP star ratings mean?

ANCAP safety ratings are determined through a series of scientific, internationally recognised crash tests, undertaken in controlled laboratories and environments, that are designed to test the level of safety a new vehicle provides to its occupants, other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. 

Though ANCAP published the results from its first crash test in 1993, the star rating system wasn’t introduced until 1999. 

The ratings assess the level of safety a new vehicle provides to occupants, other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, across a range of common crash scenarios. They also assess how well a vehicle’s collision avoidance technology is able to evade or minimise the severity of a crash.

Vehicles can achieve a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating. The more stars a vehicle has, the better it performed across key pillars in the ANCAP testing. 

What are the assessment criteria?

ANCAP tests and rates unmodified passenger, sports utility (SUV) and light commercial vehicles (LCV) when released as new vehicles into the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Safety is rated based on how vehicles perform across four key assessment pillars: 

  • Adult Occupant Protection: Considers the level of protection for adults seated in the front and second row of a vehicle in some of the most common serious injury-causing crashes scenarios.

  • Child Occupant Protection: Considers the level of protection offered to children seated in the rear seats, in the appropriate child restraints, as well as the ability of the vehicle to accommodate the most common child restraints. Vehicles are also assessed on the inclusion and effectiveness of safety features for child occupants.

  • Vulnerable Road User Protection: Assesses the vehicle’s risk to minimise injury risk to a struck pedestrian or cyclist, as well as the vehicle’s ability, through tech inclusions or advancements, to avoid or reduce impact with vulnerable road users.

  • Safety Assist: This evaluates the inclusion and effectiveness of additional collision avoidance technology – such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems, lane support systems (LSS) and automatic emergency steering (AES) systems – that has been fitted to the vehicle, which may help to prevent or minimise the severity of a crash. This does not include vehicle modifications such as bullbars or rollover protection systems.

How do you get a five-star ANCAP safety rating?

To achieve a five-star ANCAP rating, vehicles must perform at a high level across the four key categories and are required to meet minimum score thresholds for each star rating level.  A vehicle cannot achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating, for example, without providing a good level of protection to child occupants.

How often are ANCAP test criteria updated?

Rating requirements are updated every three years to encourage manufacturers to include the latest safety features and technologies into new vehicles entering the Australian and New Zealand markets. 

Is an ANCAP safety rating permanent?

ANCAP safety ratings are valid for six years, which is why it is important to check the ANCAP date stamp to make sure the safety rating for the vehicle you’re considering is still valid.

Can a vehicle manufacturer improve its ANCAP rating?

In general, ANCAP does not re-test models within the same series unless significant safety updates that would improve the rating are introduced or if a manufacturer removes key features that could impact the vehicle’s safety performance.


Toyota LandCruiser ANCAP testing

ANCAP testing and methodology

A range of physical crash tests that simulate the most common types of on-road crashes, including frontal impact, side impact, run-off-road, rear-end, and pedestrian strikes, are conducted using a family of dummies to help assess the effect on both adult and child occupants.

Is ANCAP testing mandatory?

ANCAP is an independent, non-regulatory consumer information organisation and, therefore, is not a compulsory safety assessment body. ANCAP exists to enhance the safety of the Australian and New Zealand vehicle fleets by encouraging the highest levels of vehicle safety. 

How are ANCAP ratings different from Used Car Safety Ratings?

ANCAP safety ratings are published for a range of new passenger, sports utility (SUV) and light commercial vehicles (LCV) entering the Australian and New Zealand markets, using a rating system of 0 to 5 stars. They are determined based on data obtained through the simulation of common crash and crash prevention scenarios undertaken in controlled laboratories and test tracks.

Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) research, on the other hand, is compiled by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), and are determined through the analysis of crash statistics, such as police reports.

What should I look for when buying a new car?

ANCAP recommends you choose a vehicle with the highest safety rating possible, with a “TESTED” date-stamp of no older than six years. Visit to view the latest ANCAP safety ratings of over 800 vehicle models.  


The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.