The FG is one of 19 vehicles recommended in the RACQ's annual Used Car Safety Ratings. But the list is dominated by small imported cars. Five made the Safe Pick list: Honda Civic, Peugeot 307, Volvo S40/V40, Volkswagen's Golf/Bora and the Golf/Jetta stablemates.
"This shatters the myth that big cars are safe," RACQ executive manager vehicle technologies Steve Spalding says. "Some (large cars) don't have a particularly high rating, while some of the smaller stuff can outperform them. What it means is you can pick a safe car that is still small and economical to run."
No light cars made the Safe Pick list. "That is a consequence of their light weight. In a two-vehicle crash they come off worst because of the disparity in weight," he said.
The Monash University Accident Research Centre analysed records from more than four million vehicles in police-reported road crashes and more than a million injured road users in Australia and New Zealand between 1987 and 2009.
It found a wide variation in the level of crash protection in the 10 categories of vehicles studied. The risk of injury or death is 8.2 times higher in the worst rated vehicle, the 1996 Daihatsu Mira, than in the best vehicle, the 2008-09 Falcon FG.
The average risk of death or serious injury to the driver of a 2009 car in a crash is about 30 per cent less than for the driver of a 1996 car.
"When you're choosing a vehicle, don't just think about your own safety," Spalding says. "Think about the safety of other drivers and road users such as cyclists and pedestrians."
Honda Civic (06-09), Peugeot 307 (01-09), Volvo S40/V40 (97-04), VW Golf/Bora (99-04), VW Golf/Jetta (04-09)
BMW 5 Series E39 (96-03), Mazda6 (02-07), Honda Accord (03-07), Saab 900/9-3 (94-02), Saab 9000 (86-97)
Falcon FG (08-09), Toyota Camry (06-09)
Honda CR-V (02-06), Subaru Forester (02-08)
Mitsubishi Pajero NM/NP/NS (00-06)
Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ/WG (99-05)
Mitsubishi Triton ML/MN (06-09), Ford/Mazda Ranger/BT-50 (06-09)
Ford Transit (01-07)