Feel safe for $5000
Better still, buy the latest car you can afford, writes PAUL GOVER
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.