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USED car val­ued at $2000 is the sur­prise per­former in the lat­est used-car crash rat­ings.

The 1996 Chrysler Neon was one of 118 ve­hi­cles to score strongly in the Monash Uni­ver­sity Ac­ci­dent Re­search Cen­tre crash rank­ings sur­vey.

‘‘It shows that sec­ond­hand car buy­ers do not have to limit their op­tions when it comes to buy­ing a safe car,’’ Monash re­searcher Dr Stu­art New­stead said.

The study as­sessed 239 cars, com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, vans, peo­ple movers and four-wheeldrives from 1982 on­wards.

The data was com­piled from 3.6 mil­lion ve­hi­cles and 740,000 in­jured road users in­volved in crashes from 1992-2007.

Dr New­stead said the re­sults show that buy­ers can choose safer cars across most mar­ket seg­ments.

‘‘There is a safer choice for ev­ery driver, from small cars to larger cars and com­mer­cial vans,’’ he said.

Apart from the Neon, the Ford Fo­cus, Volk­swa­gen Golf, Mazda MX5 and Peu­geot 307 rated well among small and medium-sized cars.

ANot sur­pris­ingly, ve­hi­cles built be­fore 1995 dom­i­nated the worst per­form­ers.

‘‘Th­ese ve­hi­cles gen­er­ally do not have the safety fea­tures of some of the more mod­ern cars, like airbags and stronger bodies.

‘‘Gen­er­ally, the newer the car, the bet­ter the pro­tec­tion for driver and pas­sen­gers.’’

Among the worst per­form­ers were pre-1995 ver­sions of the Hyundai Ex­cel, Mit­subishi Lancer and Nis­san NX.

Some pre-1995 mi­cro cars, com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles and four-wheel-drives also rated poorly.

The Monash study ranked older ver­sions of the Dai­hatsu Mira, Subaru Sherpa, Suzuki Alto, Suzuki Carry van and Dai­hatsu Rocky as very poor.

Other mod­els that scored poorly or very poorly in­cluded the Dai­hatsu Mira built be­tween 1990 and 1996 and the Nis­san Pin­tara built be­tween 1989 and 1992.

Many late-model Aus­tralian-made cars scored above av­er­age but Euro­pean and Ja­panese cars dom­i­nated the best per­form­ers.

SMALL BUT SAFE: Se­nior re­searcher at MUARC Stu­art New­stead with a dam­aged Chrysler Neon which per­formed well in the tests

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