The NRMA has released its ratings of the safest used cars on the market, along with findings that choosing a safer car could reduce young driver fatalities by 60 per cent.

Research conducted by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), on behalf of the NRMA and the NSW Government, rated eight small car models, including the Holden Cruze, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Jetta, as having ‘Excellent’ driver protection.

The Ford Fiesta was the only light car to achieve the top rating, while nine medium cars achieved it, including the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Honda Accord and Prelude, and Holden Vectra.

The Mitsubishi Outlander/Peugeot 407 was the only compact SUV to earn the five-star rating, although a host of vehicles achieved the rating in the medium and large SUV segments.

The Used Car Safety Ratings are based on data collated by thousands of actual traffic accidents to determine how well each vehicle protects its occupants.

In response to criticism of new car safety testing by the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) for not reflecting real world conditions, the MUARC study simulated an offset head-on collision between two different models to illustrate the difference in passenger protection between a 5-star rated car and a 2-star vehicle.

The 5-star Cruze fared much better than the 2-star Mitsubishi Lancer, which NRMA vehicle safety expert Jack Haley said could mean the difference between walking away from an accident or being killed.

“A driver of the worst vehicle rated is more than six times as likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash as the same driver in the best vehicle,” he said.

Five-star rated used cars by class*

City cars

2009-2013 Ford Fiesta

Small cars

2009-2013 Honda Civic
2006-201 Honda Civic
2001-2009 Peugeot 307
2007-2011 Subaru Impreza
2003-2009 Toyota Prius
2004-2009 Volkswagen Golf and Jetta
2009-2012 Ford Focus
1997-2004 Volvo S40/V40

Medium cars

2001-2008 Audi A4
1998-2006 Volkswagen Passat
2005-2013 BMW 3-Series
2003-2005 Holden Vectra
1997-2002 Honda Prelude
2003-2007 Honda Accord
1999-2004 Lexus IS
2007-2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Large cars

1996-2003 BMW 5-Series
2008-2013 Ford Falcon
2003-2006 Holden Statesman/Caprice
1996-2002 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
2006-2012 Toyota Aurion
2005-2008 Mitsubishi 380


2006-2012 Mitsubishi Outlander
2006-2013 Holden Captiva
2006-2012 Mazda CX-7
2005-2013 Nissan Pathfinder
2002-2006 Honda CR-V
2001-2007 Jeep Cherokee
2008-2013 Subaru Forester
1995-2005 Nissan Pathfinder/Terrano/Regulus
2005-2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara
2004-2010 Ford Territory
1998-2005 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
2007-2013 Toyota Kluger/Highlander
2001-2013 BMW X5
2002-2005 Ford Explorer
1999-2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2007-2013 Mitsubishi Pajero
2007-2013 Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series
2003-2009 Toyota Prado


2007-2013 Holden Commodore Ute
2006-2011 Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50
2006-2013 Mitsubishi Triton
2005-2013 Nissan Navara

* NRMA’s buyer’s guide to used car safety ratings 2015-16

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