The 1996 Chrysler Neon was one of 118 vehicles to score strongly in the Monash University Accident Research Centre crash rankings survey. "It shows that secondhand car buyers do not have to limit their options when it comes to buying a safe car," MUARC researcher, Dr Stuart Newstead, said.
The study assessed 239 cars, commercial vehicles, vans, people movers and four-wheel drives from 1982 onwards. The data was compiled from 3.6 million vehicles and 740,000 injured road users involved in crashes from 1992-2007.
Dr Newstead said the results show that buyers can choose safer cars across most market segments. "There is a safer choice for every driver, from small cars to larger cars and commercial vans," he said. Apart from the Neon, the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Mazda MX5 and Peugeot 307 rated well among small cars.
Not surprisingly, vehicles built before 1995 dominated the worst performers. "These vehicles generally do not have the safety features of some of the more modern cars, like airbags and stronger bodies," Dr Newstead said. "Generally, the newer the car, the better the protection for driver and passengers."
Among the worst performers were pre-1995 versions of the Hyundai Excel, Mitsubishi Lancer and Nissan NX. Some pre-1995 micro cars, commercial vehicles and four-wheel drives also rated poorly. The MUARC study ranked older versions of the Daihatsu Mira, Subaru Sherpa, Suzuki Alto, Suzuki Carry van and Daihatsu Rocky as very poor. Other models that scored poorly or very poorly included the Daihatsu Mira built between 1990 and 1996 and the Nissan Pintara built between 1989 and 1992.
Many late-model Australian-made cars scored above average but European and Japanese cars dominated the best performers. Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores from 2002 to 2007 achieved good rankings but older Saabs, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and BMWs have excellent crash protection.
The ratings are in their 17th year and vehicles have been rated by both their occupant protection and impact on other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Dr Newstead urged car buyers to make safety a high priority when choosing a second-hand vehicle, regardless of budget. The RACV's Used Car Safety Ratings can be found at www.racv.com.au
BEST PERFORMING VEHICLES
Chrysler Neon (1996-09)
Ford Focus (2005-07)
Mazda MX5 (1998-2005)
Peugeot 307 (2001-2007)
Volkswagen Golf (2004-2007)
WORST PERFORMING VEHICLES
Hyundai Excel (1990-1994)
Hyundai Accent (1995-2000)
Mitsubishi Lancer/Mirage (1991-1992)
Nissan NX/NX-R (1991-1996)
Subaru Impreza (1993-2000)