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Driving with kids can be one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood – especially in hefty ol’ Australia, where we must often travel unreasonably long distances by car.

Between concentrating on the road, following sat nav directions and trying to keep the kids from killing each other in the back… it can all get a bit too much, and actually quite dangerous.

Indeed, a 2013 study of Melbourne drivers found that parents who drive with young children in the back seat spent an average 18% of the time with their eyes off the road!

With this in mind, it’s clear that parents need all the help they can get. The first step is to get a car that’s properly up to the job, so here are the safest cars you can buy in Australia as rated by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

Toyota Prius

prius

The 2016 Toyota Prius combines excellent crash test scores and an impressive range of high tech safety features, making it one of the safest cars on the road in Australia.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded this model ‘Top Safety Pick+’, meaning that there was minimal risk of injury to the driver in a standard crash test. All variants from November 2015 onwards have an ANCAP safety rating of 5 stars.

Meanwhile, the Toyota’s impressive safety features include a number of automated technologies. The smart cruise control system uses sensors to continually monitor the speed of the car ahead, automatically adjusting your speed so you maintain a safe distance at all times. If an imminent crash is detected, the car will alert the driver and apply the brakes automatically.

Combine all these features with this hybrid’s fuel efficiency and you have a top pick for a thrifty family car.

Mazda CX-9

mazda cx9

This excellent SUV combines the sporty performance of a sedan with the safety and control of a 4WD, making it an excellent choice for nipping about town with the kids in tow.

All models from July 2016 onwards have an ANCAP safety rating of 5 stars, meaning that in a test crash both the driver and passenger had a high level of protection and survivability.

The Mazda CX-9’s enhanced safety relies on maximising visibility for the driver. Controls are carefully positioned to avoid driver distractions and a high tech array of cameras and sensors gives the driver a 360 view of the road at all times.

The size and space in this Mazda, coupled with its excellent safety record, make it arguably the best choice for larger families.

Subaru Levorg

Subaru levorg

Taking third place on the list is the brand new sportwagon from Subaru – the Levorg – with all models receiving an ANCAP safety rating of 5 stars.

This is the third Japanese car on the list, showing that the country’s manufacturers are really putting safety as their highest priority. Subaru have succeeded in making one of their safest cars yet, with the Levorg scoring 35.85 out of a possible 37 points.

All three available models have automated emergency braking built in as standard, activating both in car on car and car on pedestrian accidents.

With its sleek style the Levorg has got to be the car of choice for those with older families. No teenager would be embarrassed being dropped off at school in this beauty!

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

mercedes benz e class

The final car on our list is the incredibly swanky E-Class from the German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. All variants from July 2016 onwards have received an ANCAP safety rating of 5 stars.

Behind its handsome exterior the E-Class is jam packed with cutting edge safety tech unique to Merc.

The ‘Impulse Side System’ inflates air chambers to push front seat riders inwards by 50mm in the event of a side collision, lessening the chance of direct impact. Meanwhile, the model series 213 features a system that plays ‘pink noise’ from the car’s speakers just before impact, protecting the inner ear from damage during the crash.

This car’s the number one pick for the driver that wants a full luxury experience without compromising on safety.

All images via Gumtree

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