The Honda CR-V, Kia Cerato, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and four of a list of 106 vehicles rated as the safest used car buys for sale in Australia.

The “Used Car Safety Ratings” list, compiled by the Monash University Accident Research Centre, provides a clear indication of which used vehicles are the safest to buy and will give maximum protection to you and your family.

It is a must-have guide for people on a budget needing a safe vehicle. It is also particularly timely given the approaching holiday season and the start of a used car buying spree ahead of the new year’s start of the school semester which is traditionally a time when students — and their parents — usually hunt for a car to commute to school.

Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has just launched its guide that lists 106 used vehicles with a 5-Star overall safety rating.

The annual ratings come from MUARC’s real-world statistical analysis of more than nine million vehicles involved in police-reported crashes and 2.5 million injured road users in Australia and New Zealand between 1987 and 2021.

The ratings have now been expanded to focus on not only how a vehicle protects the driver, but also its impact on other road users in a crash and its crash avoidance technology. 

Research lead and MUARC Director, Professor Stuart Newstead, said the enhanced scope of the ratings will empower consumers to make a safer choice.

“Serious road trauma resulting from the worst-rated car is more than ten times that of the best-rated car in the same crash with the same driver,” he said.

“If we want to optimise the safety of the fleet, we have to be wary of not just how the vehicle protects you as the driver, but also the injury risk the vehicle poses to other road users. 

“The change in focus of the Used Car Safety Ratings to consider the ‘Overall Safety’ rating reflecting serious trauma risk the vehicle poses to all road users is a significant step towards this holistic approach to road safety.”

MUARC has introduced a new “Overall Safety” star rating assigned to each vehicle model that combines the scores for:

  • Driver Safety: How well the vehicle protects its driver from being killed or seriously injured in a crash

  • Other Road User Safety: How well the vehicle protects other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists from being killed or seriously injured in a crash

  • Crash Avoidance: The reduction in crash involvement risk resulting from the availability of proven crash avoidance technologies in the vehicle, such as electronic stability control, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, roll stability control, and reversing cameras and sensors.

MUARC this year gave a five-star rating to 518 vehicle models. The ratings were for Overall Safety in addition to Driver Safety, Other Road User Safety and Crash Avoidance, with 1-star being the worst for safety and 5-stars indicating the top 20 per cent of vehicles for relative safety performance. 

In its statement with the ratings guide, MUARC said the star rating applying to the 518 vehicles distills down to 106 vehicles that have been allocated a 5-star Overall Safety rating.

“Eighty-seven of those vehicles also scored 5-stars for Driver Safety and at least 3-stars for Other Road User Safety and Crash Avoidance and were awarded ‘Safer Pick’ status,” MUARC said. 

Which are the ones that you should chose over others? The 20 Safer Pick vehicles selected by MUARC that received 5-stars in every category are (in alphabetical order):

“For motorists on a budget, the Used Car Safety Ratings 2023 show the affordability of each car, to making a safer choice, with more than half the ‘Safer Pick’ vehicles available second hand for less than $10,000, and all but two available for less than $25,000,” the MUARC report said.

The Used Car Safety Ratings 2023 also highlight the improvements in vehicle safety over the past 30 years. 

“Most ‘Safer Pick’ vehicles have been manufactured since 2006, with data showing that on average, a vehicle manufactured in 2021 reduces the risk of road users being killed or seriously injured by 33 percent compared to a vehicle manufactured in 2001,” it said. 

“Additionally, newer vehicles provide reduced crash involvement risk through their range of crash avoidance technologies such as lane-keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, electronic stability control, roll-stability control, and reversing cameras and sensors.”

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