Life Auto Revealed: the safest used cars for young drivers
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Revealed: the safest used cars for young drivers

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Recent research funded by state road authorities and car clubs around Australia has confirmed that motorists can still purchase safe vehicles at affordable prices.

The Monash University Accident Research Centre’s exhaustive 273-page report reveals that while second-hand buyers will be safest in large SUVs overall, compact cars aren’t the least safe overall.

Funded by the motoring clubs including the RACV, NRMA and RACQ, and government bodies such as VicRoads, NSW Transport and the Queensland Department of Transport, the findings have been disseminated by the various car clubs and released via their own used car safety ratings.

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Only a handful of the 210 vehicles studied by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre have been crash-tested over the years, including a 2009 Holden Cruze and 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer this year.

The findings of the study are based on crash data collected between 1987 and 2013 – involving roughly seven million vehicles.

Holden Cruze
The Holden Cruze was awarded a “safety pick” award for small cars.

The NRMA cited the 2009 Ford Fiesta as one of the safest vehicles in the compact car class, and the company’s resident vehicle safety expert, Jack Haley, said that if young motorists chose the safest car they could afford, fatalities could drop by almost two thirds.

“A driver of the worst rated vehicle 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.

According to the report, around a third of all cars tested received a poor or very poor safety rating.

The RACQ handed out 50 ‘five-star’ safety ratings for second-hand cars based on the updated report, including vehicles such as the Subaru Impreza (2007 to 2011) and the Honda Civic (2006 to 2011).

It also gave the Holden Cruze (2009 to 2012) small car five-stars and an RACQ ‘safe pick’ award.

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The RACV nominated the FG Falcon (2008 to 2013) as a ‘safe pick’ for under $8000 and also chose the Holden Captiva (2006 to 2013) as one of the safest in its segment. The Peugeot 307 (2001-2009) and the Golf Jetta (2004-2009) were also top picks.

Some of the worst rated, one-star cars include the Daihatsu Applause (1989 to 1999), the Toyota Camry (1993 to 1997) and the Holden Commodore Ute (1994 to 2000).

The NSW government funded a crash test between two used vehicles – one five-star rated (Holden Cruze) and the other two-star rated (Mitsubishi Lancer) – to highlight the safety differences in the event of a crash.

See the video below for the horrific results.


“These independently determined ratings which are released annually help buyers make smart and informed decisions when purchasing used cars,” said the NSW minister for roads Duncan Gay.

“We’ve had our NSW Government road safety experts crash test two of the featured used cars and the results were shocking – with the five star rated 2009 Holden Cruze coming off much better than the two star rated Mitsubishi Lancer,” he said.

Read the full 273-page MUARC report here or for more easily digestible details on the safest used cars, check out the car club websites in your state.

This article originally appeared on motoring.com.au. All images via motoring.com.au.

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