Australia's worst and best used car safety ratings

The 2021 Used Car Safety Ratings use real-world crash data to give 289 different vehicles a star rating for safety.

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William Stopford
William Stopford
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There are ANCAP safety ratings for new cars, but what about used cars?

Monash University’s Vehicle Safety Research Group has teamed up with Australia’s auto clubs and state road authorities to give 289 different used vehicles a safety rating.

Like ANCAP, the 2021 Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) range from one to five stars.

Unlike ANCAP, which subjects new cars to a testing regimen that culminates in cars getting smashed into barriers, the used car safety ratings are instead based on independent analysis of real-world crash statistics.

That means instead of setting criteria and benchmarks for expected performance, the UCSR is about looking at how vehicles on Australian roads perform relative to each other.

The team at Monash looks at a person’s risk of death or serious injury in a crash and how that relates to the type of vehicle they’re driving, collecting data from police crash reports as well as from vehicle registers.

Demographic factors are taken into account in the analysis, with ratings adjusted based on:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Number of vehicles involved in the crash
  • Crash location
  • Crash year
  • Speed limit

The complex statistical analysis sets aside the risk of being involved in a crash in the first place, which is influenced by factors like the vehicle’s technology, the driver’s behaviour, the road environment or the condition of the vehicle.

“There’s X number of these vehicles involved in a crash, [and we look at] what proportion of the drivers were killed or seriously injured in this vehicle versus that vehicle after you’ve taken all the other factors into account,” said associate professor Stuart Newstead of the Monash University Accident Research Centre.

The team look primarily at the protection for a driver, considering a majority of the time vehicles on the road have only a single occupant, but it also looks at the chance of you being injured by this car as a pedestrian, cyclist or other road user.

The relative popularity of a vehicle has no impact on its rating in the report, other than to ensure its presence. For example, lower-volume vehicles from the likes of Chery and Ferrari don’t feature on the report as there’s less accident data available.

The team also awards Safer Pick ratings, which also take into account the risk of death or serious injury to other road users and the likelihood of an accident based on the crash avoidance technology fitted.

“A driver of the worst vehicle rated is over eight times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash than the same driver in the safest vehicle,” said Associate Professor Newstead.

The report notes 64 per cent of vehicle fatalities in 2020 occurred in vehicles aged 10 years or older, while the average risk of serious injury or death in a 2019 vehicle is around 47 per cent less than a 2000 vehicle and 61 per cent less than a vehicle manufactured prior to 1990.

“What the used car safety ratings then also do is reflect naturally some of the things that happen in the fleet,” said Associate Professor Newstead.

“If you’re driving a very small car, you’re at a disadvantage in the real world because you’re getting hit by a lot heavier things so the crash energy that you sustain is more, and so that vehicle has to work harder.

“As you see in the Used Car Safety Ratings, more of the bigger cars score well because in the real world that’s what happens. If you’re in a Suzuki Swift getting hit by a LandCruiser 200 Series, you’d probably prefer to be in a LandCruiser 200.

“That’s not to say if you want a light car you shouldn’t buy one, but you should be conscious of what that means when you take it out on the road.

“And I think it’s particularly pertinent for when you’re, for example, shopping for a car for a novice driver who as you know has a very high crash risk, you want to know how they’re going to perform in the real world.”

Associate Professor Newstead says given the lower ratings for most light cars, it would be wise to instead go up a size when buying a used car and look at, for example, a used Ford Focus.

While a car assessed by ANCAP keeps its star rating until it’s tested again, every vehicle in the UCSR is updated annually. As cars get safer and safer, what was once a five-star car could slip down in the ratings.

In addition to analysing the data for the UCSR, the Vehicle Safety Research Group also produces research on safety features.

Here’s a rundown of the Used Car Safety Ratings:

Light cars

ModelYearStar rating
Daihatsu Charade1993-2000
Daihatsu Sirion1998-2004
Ford Fiesta2004-2008
Ford Festiva1994-2001
Holden Barina1995-2000
Holden Barina (XC)/Combo2001-2012
Holden Barina2005-2011
Hyundai Getz2002-2011
Kia Rio2000-2005
Kia Rio2005-2011
Mazda 121 Metro1997-2002
Mazda 22002-2007
Mitsubishi Colt2004-2011
Nissan Micra2011-2016
Peugeot 2061999-2007
Suzuki Swift2005-2010
Suzuki Swift2011-2017
Toyota Echo1999-2005
Ford Fiesta2009-2018
Holden Barina2011-2018
Honda Jazz/Fit2002-2008
Honda Jazz/Fit2008-2014
Hyundai i202010-2015
Mazda 22007-2014
Toyota Yaris/Vitz2005-2011
Toyota Yaris/Vitz2011-2019
Kia Rio2011-2016
Honda City2009-2013
Volkswagen Polo2010-2017

Small cars

ModelYearStar rating
Daewoo Lanos1997-2003
Daewoo Nubira1997-2003
Ford Laser1999-2003
Holden Astra1998-2006
Honda Civic1996-2000
Honda Integra1993-2001
Hyundai Accent1995-2000
Hyundai Accent2000-2006
Hyundai Lantra1996-2000
Hyundai Elantra2000-2006
Hyundai Excel1995-2000
Kia Cerato2004-2008
Mazda 3231999-2003
Mitsubishi Lancer/Mirage1996-2003
Mitsubishi Lancer2002-2003
Mitsubishi Lancer2003-2007
Nissan 200SX/Silvia1994-2002
Nissan Pulsar2000-2005
Nissan Tiida2006-2013
Subaru Impreza1993-2000
Suzuki Baleno1995-2002
Toyota Corolla/Allex1998-2001
Ford Focus2002-2005
Holden Astra2004-2009
Holden Viva2005-2009
Honda Civic2001-2005
Honda Civic2012-2016
Hyundai Elantra2006-2011
Hyundai Elantra2011-2015
Kia Cerato2009-2013
Peugeot 3061994-2001
Suzuki Liana2001-2007
Toyota Corolla2001-2007
Toyota Corolla 2007-2013
Toyota MR21991-2000
Ford Focus2005-2012
Holden Cruze2009-2016
Honda Civic2006-2011
Hyundai Accent2011-2019
Hyundai i302007-2012
Hyundai i302012-2017
Mazda 32003-2009
Mazda 32009-2013
Mitsubishi Lancer2007-2017
Nissan Pulsar (B17 sedan)2012-2017
Peugeot 3082008-2013
Subaru BRZ2012-2019
Subaru Impreza2001-2007
Toyota 862012-2019
Toyota Corolla2012-2019
Toyota Prius 22003-2009
Volkswagen Golf/Bora1999-2004
Volvo S40/V401997-2004
BMW 1 Series2004-2013
Ford Focus2012-2018
Kia Cerato2013-2018
Mazda 32013-2019
Peugeot 3072001-2009
Subaru Impreza2007-2011
Volkswagen Golf/Jetta2004-2009
Volkswagen Golf/Jetta2010-2013
Volkswagen Golf (Mk7/7.5)2013-2019
Mercedes-Benz B-Class (W246)2012-2018
Audi A32004-2013★ – Safer Pick
Audi A3/S3/RS32013-2019★ – Safer Pick
BMW 1 Series2011-2019★ – Safer Pick
Mercedes-Benz A-Class (W176)2012-2018★ – Safer Pick
Subaru Impreza/XV2012-2016★ – Safer Pick
Toyota Prius 32009-2016★ – Safer Pick

Medium cars

ModelYearStar rating
Holden Vectra1997-2003
Hyundai Sonata1998-2001
Mazda 6261998-2002
Toyota Camry1997-2002
Audi A41995-2001
BMW 3 Series (E46)1999-2006
Ford Mondeo1995-2001
Mazda 62002-2007
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W202)1994-2000
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W203)2000-2010
Saab 900/9-31994-2002
Subaru Liberty/Outback1999-2003
Toyota Avalon2000-2005
Toyota Camry2002-2006
Holden Vectra2003-2005
Honda Accord1999-2002
Honda Accord2003-2007
Honda Accord Euro2003-2008
Honda Accord Euro2008-2015
Lexus IS200/IS3001999-2004
Mazda 62008-2011
Subaru Liberty/Outback2003-2009
Toyota Aurion2012-2017
Audi A42001-2008
BMW 3 Series2005-2013
Ford Mondeo2007-2015
Honda Accord2008-2013
Lexus IS250/IS350/IS F2005-2013
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W204/C204)2007-2015
Toyota Aurion2006-2012
Toyota Camry2006-2011
Volkswagen Passat2006-2015
Toyota Camry2011-2017
Audi A4/S4/RS4/Allroad2008-2015★ – Safer Pick
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W205/S205/C205/A205)2014-2019★ – Safer Pick
Mercedes-Benz CLK (C209)2003-2009★ – Safer Pick
Subaru Liberty/Outback/Exiga2009-2014★ – Safer Pick

Large cars

ModelYearStar rating
Ford Fairlane/LTD (AU)1999-2002
Ford Falcon (AU)1998-2002
Holden Commodore (VT/VX)1997-2002
Holden Statesman/Caprice (WH)1999-2003
Mitsubishi Magna/Verada1996-2003
Mitsubishi Magna/Verada2003-2005
Ford Fairlane/LTD (BA/BF)2003-2007
Holden Commodore (VY/VZ)2002-2007
Holden Monaro2001-2005
Jaguar XJ2010-2019
Nissan Maxima2000-2002
Nissan Maxima2006-2009
Ford Falcon (BA/BF)2002-2008
Holden Statesman/Caprice (WK/WL)2003-2006
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W210)1996-2002
Mitsubishi 3802005-2008
BMW 5 Series (E39)1996-2003
BMW 5 Series (E60)2003-2010
Holden Commodore (VE)2006-2013
Holden Statesman/Caprice (WM/WN)2006-2017
Ford Falcon (FG/FG X)2008-2016
Holden Commodore (VF)2013-2017
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W211)2002-2009
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W212/C207/A207)2009-2016★ – Safer Pick

Small SUVs

VehicleYearStar rating
Kia Sportage1998-2003
Suzuki SX42007-2014
Hyundai Tucson2004-2010★★
Mitsubishi ASX2010-2016★★★
Hyundai ix352010-2015★★★★
Hyundai Tucson2015-2019★★★★
Kia Sportage2010-2015★★★★
Nissan Dualis2007-2013★★★★
Volkswagen Tiguan2008-2016★★★★

Medium SUVs

ModelYearStar rating
Suzuki Grand Vitara1998-2005
Toyota RAV41994-2000
Ford Escape2001-2006
Ford Escape2006-2012
Holden Jackaroo/Isuzu Bighorn1998-2002
Honda CR-V1997-2001
Jepp Cherokee1996-2000
Mazda Tribute2001-2006
Mazda Tribute2006-2008
Mitsubishi Challenger1998-2006
Mitsubishi Outlander2003-2006
Nissan X-Trail2001-2007
Subaru Forester1997-2002
Suzuki Grand Vitara2005-2008
Toyota RAV42001-2005
Holden Captiva2006-2018
Nissan Pathfinder/Terrano/Regulus1995-2005
Nissan X-Trail2007-2014
Subaru Forester2002-2008
Toyota RAV42006-2012
Toyota RAV42013-2019
Ford Territory2004-2010
Honda CR-V2002-2006
Honda CR-V2007-2012
Honda CR-V2012-2017
Hyundai Santa Fe2000-2006
Jeep Cherokee2001-2007
Jeep Wrangler2007-2018
Mazda CX-52012-2017
Mazda CX-72006-2012
Mitsubishi Outlander2012-2019
Subaru Forester2008-2012
Suzuki Grand Vitara2008-2018
Toyota Kluger2003-2007
Ford Territory2011-2016
Hyundai Santa Fe2006-2012
Lexus RX2009-2015
Subaru Tribeca2006-2014
Toyota Kluger2007-2013
Audi Q5/SQ52009-2016★ – Safer Pick
BMW X32010-2017★ – Safer Pick
Ford Kuga2013-2016★ – Safer Pick
Hyundai Santa Fe2012-2018★ – Safer Pick
Mitsubishi Outlander2006-2012★ – Safer Pick
Nissan Murano2009-2015★ – Safer Pick
Peugeot 40072006-2012★ – Safer Pick
Subaru Forester2012-2018★ – Safer Pick
Toyota Kluger2013-2019★ – Safer Pick
Volvo XC60 2009-2017★ – Safer Pick

Large SUVs

ModelYearStar rating
Kia Sorento2003-2009
Land Rover Discovery1991-2002
Lexus LX1998-2007
Lexus LX2007-2019
Toyota LandCruiser 100 Series1998-2007
Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series2007-2019
Toyota LandCruiser Prado1996-2003
Mazda CX-9 2007-2015
Mitsubishi Pajero2000-2006
Nissan Patrol1998-2016
Toyota LandCruiser Prado2002-2009
Land Rover Discovery2009-2016
Mitsubishi Pajero2007-2019
Nissan Pathfinder2005-2013
Nissan Pathfinder2013-2019
Toyota LandCruiser Prado2009-2019
Audi Q72006-2014★ – Safer Pick
BMW X52001-2006★ – Safer Pick
BMW X52007-2013★ – Safer Pick
Isuzu MU-X2013-2019★ – Safer Pick
Jeep Grand Cherokee2010-2019★ – Safer Pick
Mercedes-Benz ML1998-2005★ – Safer Pick
Mercedes-Benz ML/GL2005-2011★ – Safer Pick
Mercedes-Benz ML/GLE and GL/GLS2012-2019★ – Safer Pick
Volvo XC902003-2015★ – Safer Pick

People movers

ModelYearStar rating
Honda Odyssey1995-2000
Kia Carnival1999-2006
Toyota Avensis Verso2001-2010
Toyota Tarago/Previa/Estima2000-2006
Toyota Tarago/Previa/Estima2006-2019
Honda Odyssey2004-2009
Kia Carnival2006-2011
Kia Carnival2014-2019

Vans

ModelYearStar rating
Mitsubishi Express1994-2013
Toyota HiAce/Liteace1996-2004
Toyota HiAce2005-2019
Volkswagen Caddy2005-2019
Ford Transit2001-2007
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter1998-2006
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter2006-2018
Hyundai iLoad2008-2019
Mercedes-Benz Vito/Viano/Valente2004-2015
Volkswagen Caravelle/Transporter/Multivan2004-2015

Utes

ModelYearStar rating
Holden Commodore Ute (VR/VS)1994-2000
Holden Commodore Ute (VU)2000-2002
Holden Rodeo1999-2002
Mitsubishi Triton 1996-2006
Ford Courier1998-2002
Ford Courier2003-2006
Ford Falcon Ute (AU)2000-2002
Holden Rodeo 2003-2008
Mazda B-Series1998-2002
Mazda Bravo2003-2006
Toyota HiLux1998-2002
Toyota HiLux2003-2004
Ford Falcon Ute (BA/BF)2003-2008
Ford Ranger 2006-2011
Holden Colorado2008-2011
Holden Commodore Ute (VY/VZ)2002-2007
Isuzu D-Max2008-2011
Mazda BT-502006-2011
Mitsubishi Triton 2006-2015
Nissan Navara1997-2005
Toyota HiLux2005-2015
Ford Falcon Ute (FG/FG X)2008-2016
Holden Commodore Ute (VE)2007-2013
Nissan Navara2005-2015
Ford Ranger2011-2015
Holden Colorado2012-2019
Mazda BT-502011-2015
Volkswagen Amarok2011-2019

MORE: ANCAP ratings: everything you need to know
MORE: Australia’s best-selling cars without ANCAP ratings
MORE: What’s next for ANCAP?

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William Stopford
William Stopford
William Stopford is a Journalist at CarExpert.
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