Not a single ute or pickup is rated as a Safer Pick for secondhand shoppers in Australia’s most detailed rating of used vehicle safety.

    None is included on the elite listing of 20 vehicles – from 518 contenders – which rate a Safer Pick score from the Monash University Accident Research Centre.

    The 2023 list of top-rated vehicles runs from the Audi A4 to the Volkswagen Tiguan, and includes sedans and hatchbacks, station wagons, and four-wheel drives.

    Another 106 vehicles qualified for an overall five-star rating, but failed to clear the bar for a Safer Pick score.

    “A new focus for the ratings this year is incorporating protection for other road users. This is where all the utes fall down,” the head of the ratings program, Dr Stuart Newstead, told CarExpert.

    “All our ute friends have disappeared off the five-star list.”

    The MUARC rating is Australia’s most comprehensive list and is compiled from the results of more than nine million vehicles involved in police-reported incidents involving injured people between 1987 and 2021.

    Each vehicle is rated between one and five stars for Driver Safety, Other Road User Safety and Crash Avoidance, with only the top 20 per cent – rated against rivals – making it to a five-star rating.

    Unlike safety ratings by the Australasian New-Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which rates new-car safety in laboratory conditions, the scores come from the real world.

    To make the list for Safer Pick models, vehicles must score five stars in every category of the MUARC research.

    The 2023 list has grown slightly from 2022 and the results for a number of vehicles has changed, as MUARC has given greater weighting to the effect of a vehicle on others.

    “This is a whole new focus. The previous ratings were about driver protection. We’ve decided to expand it to give collision-partner protection its full weight, and integrate some of the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) technology as well,” said Dr Newstead.

    “I think the results are better. We can’t just focus on ourselves. How a vehicle impacts other people is more important now. It’s quite transparent.”

    He said there is a shift which is reflected in the 2023 scores.

    “We’re looking at the real world. There are plenty of medium and small SUVs that make the (5-star) grade. They are quite soft, they are quite good.

    “The market is quite tricky today. It takes vehicles a long time to get into here, because there are not a lot around. Most cars take about five years before they are involved in enough crashes for them to rate.”

    He also emphasised the improvement in the scoring system, as well as changes in the results.

    “Each vehicle is re-rated each year. They are rated against each other. So they get more accurate each year.”

    “You can see the progress in the vehicle fleet. Occupant protection is marching along and improving year on year.

    “But when you look at partner protection, generally it hasn’t gone anywhere. There are no regulations.”

    The 20 vehicles on the Safer Pick list for 2023:

    Paul Gover

    Paul Gover is one of the most experienced and respected motoring journalists in Australia. After more than 40 years on the automotive beat there is nothing he has not done, yet he still brings the enthusiasm of a rookie. He has worked in print, digital, radio, television and for every major publisher in the country. He is also a national motor racing champion and once co-drove with Peter Brock at Bathurst.

    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers