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NRMA puts used car safety to the test

Second-hand hero: The 2009-11 Holden Cruze scored top marks in the NRMA Used Car Safety Rating report.

Locally-built large cars, big SUVs safest in NRMA used car safety rating report

25 Jul 2013

AUSTRALIAN-BUILT large cars and family SUVs are the safest used cars on our roads while small-cars built in the 1990s are the most unsafe, according to a safety report from the NRMA.

The Used Car Safety Rating report rates the safety of used vehicles using data collected from more than six million vehicles involved in police-reported road crashes, and more than 1.4 million road users from Australia and New Zealand between 1987 and 2011.

The report was jointly conducted by the NRMA and the NSW Centre for Road Safety and covers a total of 216 models.

NRMA applies a star rating to each vehicle, with five stars equating to an ‘Excellent’ result and one star reflecting a ‘Very Poor’ outcome for the vehicle, while a rating of ‘Safe Pick’ is for five-star vehicles that are less likely to injure other road users.

The star rating is not related to the system used by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) to determine the safety of new cars sold in Australia.

NSW Centre for Road Safety general manager Marg Prendergast said the risk of death or serious injury was nine times higher when comparing the worst and best vehicles built from 1996 on.

Ms Prendergast also made special mention of used commercial vehicles, saying it was “pleasing to see the proportion of commercial vehicles scoring good or excellent has increased significantly in this update, with three commercial utilities scoring a Safe Pick rating - a first for this type of vehicle.”

The vast majority of Safe Pick cars were manufactured from 2001 onwards, said Ms Prendergast, showing the benefits of newer vehicles’ typically longer list of safety features.

Ms Prendergast said that there were 109 vehicles achieved a rating for ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’, and 54 for either ‘Poor’ or ‘Very Poor’.

In the small-car category, the 2009-11 Holden Cruze and Mazda3, 2001-09 Peugeot 307, 2003-09 Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Golf/Bora/Jetta built between 1999 and 2011 all scored a Safe Pick rating.

Popular small-car nameplates to get a four-star rating include the 2007-11 Hyundai i30, 2004-09 Holden Astra, 2001-07 Subaru Impreza, 2007-11 Toyota Corolla and the Ford Focus built between 2002 and 2009.

The majority of models to record a poor rating were cheaper offerings from budget-focussed Korean, Japanese and Malaysian car-makers, such as Daewoo’s 1995-97 Cielo and 1997-2006 Lanos, the 1989-99 Daihatsu Applause and 1995-96 Proton Wira and 2004-11 Gen 2, as well as Hyundai’s 1990-96 S Coupe and 1995-2000 Excel.

The highest-rated light-car was the 2007-11 Mazda2 on four stars, while no fewer than four Daihatsu models were given a very poor rating including the 1990-96 Mira, 1998-2004 Sirion and 1993-2000 Charade.

Mid-size used cars proved to be the safest, with offerings from Audi (2001-08 A4), BMW (2005-11 3 Series), Mercedes-Benz (2000-07 C-Class) and Volkswagen (1998-2006 Passat) all receiving a Safe Pick rating, while the Australian-built 2006-11 Toyota Camry also scored a top ranking.

Aussie-made large cars scored highly, with Ford’s FG Falcon, 2006-11 Toyota Aurion and 2003-06 Holden Statesman/Caprice all keeping fine company as the safest cars in its category alongside the 1996-2003 BMW 5 Series and 1996-2002 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Honda’s 2004-09 Odyssey was the safest people mover on the list and the 2006-11 Mitsubishi Outlander/Peugeot 4007 twins were the only compact SUVs to score top safety marks.

Holden’s Suzuki Ignis-based 2002-06 Cruze, the tall-boy Daihatsu Terios from 1997-2005 and the 1988-98 Suzuki Vitara scored the lowest in that category.

Late model mid-size SUVs received overwhelmingly high scores, with five-star Safe Pick stickers ending up on the 2006-11 Holden Captiva, 2007-11 Honda CR-V, 2001-07 Jeep Cherokee and 2002-08 Subaru Forester.

The 2004-11 Ford Territory, 2001-08 BMW X5 and 1998-2005 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class were among the safest used large SUVs.

Commercial vehicles fared well in this year’s ratings, with three vans receiving five stars, including the 2001-07 Ford Transit and 1998-2006 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, although none achieved a Safe Pick rating.

The locally-produced VE Commodore Ute topped the list of safest utilities with a Safe Pick rating, as did the 2006-11 Mitsubishi Triton and 2005-11 Nissan Navara.

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