10 Family Cars with High Safety Ratings That You Can Actually Get for Under $30K

Safety and affordability are two important qualities when finding a car fit for the family.
Updated May 2, 2024
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If you’ve been building wealth and saving money to buy a new car, you know it can be difficult to find something affordable and still check the boxes on your wish list — with safety often being at the top. Low inventory due to production issues isn’t helping, pushing car prices higher and supply lower. 

But there are still deals to be found on new vehicles under $30,000, and you don’t have to compromise on safety for a new car, crossover, or SUV. Here are 10 family-friendly options with high safety ratings from the country’s two best testing organizations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

You don't need to wait to buy a new car to see if you could save on auto insurance.

Kia K5

Konstantin/Adobe black KIA K5 against urban background

The Kia K5, which used to be known as the Kia Optima, was ranked as a top safety pick by the IIHS. J.D. Power, which does extensive automobile research, rated Kia the number one brand in its 2021 vehicle dependability study.

Including nine airbags to offer protection from both the front and sides during a collision, this car also has a driver’s knee airbag. The child seat anchor system scored high, though one note is that they were too deep in the seat. Hill-start assist control is included to prevent rolling forward or backward while trying to start the car on an incline.

Toyota Camry

Roman/Adobe 2021 Toyota Camry (XV70)

The Toyota Camry, one of the most popular cars in the United States last year, has the Toyota Safety Sense, which includes lane departure alerts, a pre-collision system, and can even detect stop signs and speed limit signs on your route.

The company also offers its Safety Connect feature in this top-selling car, connecting drivers to a response center for any emergencies. It also was named a top safety pick by the IIHS. You can get either a gas-powered or a hybrid version of the car, and both have a starting price below $30K.

Honda Accord

art_zzz/Adobe Honda Accord

The Honda Accord has been awarded a five-star safety rating by the NHTSA as well as being recognized by IIHS as a top safety pick. Among its safety features, the Accord has low-speed braking control and a multi-angle rearview camera to help you avoid collisions. And if you do get in an accident, it has front knee airbags for both the driver and front seat passenger as additional protection.

Chevrolet Trailblazer

jetcityimage/Adobe Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV

The Trailblazer is a small SUV that includes features such as lane assist, forward collision detection and front pedestrian braking — added safety that helps reduce the chance of an accident. It received a top safety pick from the IIHS.

For parents with new teen drivers, the Trailblazer offers Teen Driver Technology, which allows you to adjust settings related to your teen driver’s key fob. It can limit vehicle features and use Buckle-to-Drive, which won’t allow a driver to shift from park if their seat belt isn’t buckled.

Pro tip: Adding a teen driver to your insurance plan could be expensive, but comparison shopping to find the best car insurance company could help you find a policy that fits your budget.

Hyundai Elantra

gmstockstudio/Adobe Hyundai elantra on the streets of Batumi

The Elantra has been a top safety pick by the IIHS for 11 consecutive years with features such as highway driving assist, lane assist, and front collision avoidance. It also uses a digital key app, which can allow you to lock and unlock your car from your phone in case you don’t have your key handy or locked it inside accidentally.

When your hands are full with groceries or kids gear, the 2021 North American Car of the Year has a hands-free smart trunk release to help you easily get your things inside.

Ford Escape

Konstantin/Adobe SUV car in motion

The popular Ford Escape, which is a top safety pick by the IIHS, has pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, park assist, adaptive cruise control, and three LATCH anchors for your kids’ car seats.

This small SUV also has a voice-activated navigation system, so you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel when programming in your destination. It features front and side airbags, including one to protect the driver’s legs in case of a collision. There are several gas and hybrid models of the Escape with a base price under $30,000.

Mazda CX-5

mino21/Adobe several Mazda cars

The CX-5 is a crossover SUV with adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring. And if you’re driving the kids around town, the CX-5 has advanced smart city brake support, which can help the car protect vehicles and pedestrians unexpectedly in its path.

This Mazda received a top rating from IIHS as well as a five-star rating from NHTSA for its protection of front seat and back seat passengers in front or side crashes.

Subaru Forester

vector_master/Adobe Gray Subaru Forester car

The popular Forester is a top safety pick by the IIHS and received the highest possible ratings for front crash prevention from the organization. All models feature Subaru’s Eyesight Driver Assist Technology, which is designed to help reduce rear-end collisions.

The system includes pre-collision braking, which can stop the car in emergency situations, and will warn you if you start to drift out of your lane. And the Forester has extra LATCH positions for car seats in the back for a growing family.

Nissan Rogue

jetcityimage/Adobe Nissan Rogue display

The Rogue, which is an IIHS top safety pick, includes a forward collision warning system, sonar on all sides to detect obstacles, and traffic sign recognition for speed limit signs. It also has intelligent driver alertness, which could detect if you’re getting drowsy and alert you if you need to take a break. The four-door small SUV includes additional anchor points in the backseat for car seats.

Mitsubishi Outlander

fotoatelier.hamburg/Adobe SUV Mitsubishi Outlander

The Outlander SUV includes 11 airbags to protect both driver and passengers inside the vehicle. And if you’re using the Outlander to tow a trailer with gear for a family vacation, the IIHS top safety pick has trailer stability assist to prevent swaying.

Unlike other compact SUVs, it has a third row to fit up to seven people, perfect for a larger family.

Bottom line

freeograph/Adobe african american family at car dealership

Making the right financial decisions aren't always so obvious, but when it comes to family vehicles, there are many options that put safety (and affordability) at the forefront. Many car dealers offer guidance on how to get a loan if needed for the total purchase price, often with in-house financing.

It’s so much easier to enjoy the open road with your family when your car has excellent safety features.

You don't need to wait to buy a new car to see if you could save on auto insurance.

Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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