You don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy a safe car. In fact, you can spend a lot more money on a car that won’t protect you anywhere near as well in a crash.
That’s the key message from the latest Used Car Safety Ratings compiled by Monash University, which studied the results of more than eight million real-world crashes across Australia and New Zealand.
All up, 372 different cars, pick-ups, vans and SUVs were rated from one star, or very poor, to five-stars, or excellent.
The lower the star count, the more likely you are to be admitted to hospital after a collision. One or two stars were awarded to 107 vehicles, while more than 60 received five stars and 31 of them the highest “safer pick” award.
The safer pick is reserved for vehicles that provide excellent protection for their drivers, cause less serious injury to other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in a collision and have a lower risk of being involved in a crash in the first place.
In our accompanying chart we’ve plucked out our 10 best safer-pick buys, all no more than 10 years old, and none more than $10,000.
The best deal of all is a 2009 Ford Mondeo sedan (pictured below) that costs as little as $2500 at private sale, according to vehicle valuation guide, www.redbook.com.au.
But on the flipside, our research found you could still pay more than $18,000 for a 2016 Suzuki Swift (below) that gets only a one-star rating.
Our list of the least safe buys is also at the bottom of this story. We’ve restricted ourselves to one and two-star vehicles on sale in the last 10 years.
“People often think that a safe car needs to be an expensive one but that’s not the case,” said Steve Spalding, head of technical and safety policy at the RACQ, a sponsor of the used car safety ratings.
“At $10,000 or less you are able to choose a very safe car and give those young drivers the protection they need.
Mr Spalding cited a simple example of where the ratings can be helpful in making a purchasing decision: a 2009 Holden Cruze small car gets a ‘good’ four-star rating while a popular competitor, the 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer, gets one star.
“Whenever someone is buying a car we would always recommend they put safety at the top of the shopping list,” Mr Spalding added.
“But particularly if you are shopping for a car for that first-time driver – and we know they lack the skills and we know they don’t have the experience – try and put them in the safest car you can afford.”
Safest and cheapest cars top 10
All 5-star Safe Picks, all 10 years old or less, all under $10,000
2008 Ford Mondeo 2.3-litre 4-door sedan auto, was $29,990 now $2500-$3900
2008 Mitsubishi Outlander 5-door SUV, 2.4-litre 4-cyl manual, was $31,490 now $5400-$7100
2008 Volkswagen Passat 4-door sedan 2.0-litre diesel 4-cylinder, was $42,490 now $6100-$7900
2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 5-door SUV 2.0-litre 4-cyl, was $33,990 now $6100-$7800
2009 Subaru Liberty 2.5-litre 4-cyl wagon, was $35,990 now $6200-$7900
2008 Holden Statesman 4-door sedan 3.6-litre V6, was $61,990 now $7100-$8900
2008 Audi A4 1.8-litre 4-door sedan, was $50,900 now $7400-$9200
2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara 5-door SUV manual 2.0-litre dual range, was $28,990 now $7900-$9600
2008 BMW 1 series – was $48,000 for a 2.0-litre diesel 5-door hatch, now $8100-$10,000
2008 Toyota Kluger, 5-door SUV 3.6-litre V6 FWD, was $39,990 now $8200-$10,100 (pictured below)
Most unsafe and expensive cars
All 1 or 2 stars, all 10 years old or less
2016 Suzuki Swift (below) – still pay $16,200 to $18,200 on the used market for a used 1.6-litre Sport. 1 star. Previous 2005-10 generation gets 2 stars
2016 Suzuki Jimny – still pay $15,100 to $17,000 for 1.3-litre 3-door SUV. 2 stars
2014 Mazda2 (below) – still pay $9000-$10,500 for 1.5-litre 5-door hatch. 2 stars
2014 Suzuki SX4 – still pay $11,500 to $13,200 for 2.0-litre 5-door hatch. 2 stars
2012 Holden Combo – still pay $6600-$8100 for 1.4-litre 2-door van. 1 star
2011 Holden Barina – still pay $4500-$5900 for a 1.6-ltre 5-door hatch. 1 star
2011 Hyundai Getz – still pay $4800-$6200 for 1.6-litre 5-door hatch. 1 star
2011 Kia Rio – still pay $6000-$7500 for 1.6-litre 4-cyl sedan. 1 star
2011 Mitsubishi Colt – still pay $5700-$7200 for 1.5-litre 5-door hatch. 1 star
2011 Toyota Yaris – still pay $8100-$9700 for a 1.5-litre 4-door sedan. 2 stars