Feel safe for $5000

Bet­ter still, buy the latest car you can af­ford, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - Used car safety rat­ings, Page 30

THERE are 26 ve­hi­cles priced from $5000 that should be top of the shop­ping list for any­one who wants the best in used-car safety. Ev­ery­thing from the Volk­swa­gen Golf and Holden Vec­tra to the Subaru Forester and Ford Tran­sit have come up trumps in the latest Used Car Safety Rat­ings.

But the ba­sic mes­sage is even more di­rect: buy the new­est car you can af­ford to min­imise your chance of be­ing killed or se­ri­ously in­jured in a crash.

‘‘Newer is gen­er­ally bet­ter,’’ says Dr Stu­art New­stead, who com­piled the rank­ings for the Monash Univer­sity Ac­ci­dent Re­search Cen­tre us­ing crash data from 1986-2006.

The rat­ings are in their 12th year and, for the first time, ve­hi­cles have been rated by both their oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion and their im­pact on other road users, in­clud­ing cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans.

‘‘Our find­ings showed 89 ve­hi­cle mod­els scor­ing bet­ter than av­er­age, with 26 of th­ese mod­els scor­ing much bet­ter than av­er­age,’’ New­stead says.

‘‘How­ever, as we’ve seen with pre­vi­ous re­sults, very few com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, large four-wheel drives or light ve­hi­cles, scored well. Equally con­cern­ing is that the re­sults also show sig­nif­i­cant gaps in crash per­for­mance.

‘‘The worst-rat­ing ve­hi­cle (Dai­hatsu Rocky, 1985-1998) pre­sented more than eight times the risk of death or se­ri­ous in­jury to peo­ple in a crash than best-rated ve­hi­cles such as the Volk­swa­gen Golf-Jetta (2004-2006).’’

The Used Car Safety Rank­ing is a ma­jor de­par­ture from the other safety rat­ings gauge, the New-Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram, be­cause it uses real crash re­sults, not lab­o­ra­tory crashes with a sin­gle car.

New­stead says the latest re­sults show the im­prove­ment in newer cars, par­tic­u­larly those with mul­ti­ple airbags.

‘‘Cer­tainly we are see­ing a lot of newer cars man­ag­ing to per­form re­ally well,’’ he says. Safety doesn’t have to be ex­pen­sive. ‘‘For $5000, con­sumers can buy a sec­ond­hand ve­hi­cle pro­vid­ing a high level of crash pro­tec­tion to oc­cu­pants and other road users.’’

The RACV says the sur­vey is an im­por­tant buy­ers’ guide.

‘‘If ev­ery­one was driv­ing ve­hi­cles in the cat­e­gory with the high­est in­jury pro­tec­tion, a dra­matic re­duc­tion in the road toll is likely,’’ chief en­gi­neer Michael Case says.

your chance of sur­viv­ing a crash is bet­ter in a car such as

the Volk­swa­gen Jetta.

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