All car manufacturers always show off their “Top Safety Pick” awards, but these are based on simulations and crash tests. While this data is useful, I’ve always felt that REAL WORLD DATA is more relevant.
Canadian press, such as The Globe and Mail and Canada MSN Autos, use a status report issued by the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as their source for identifying the safest cars on the market. The IIHS compiled four years’ worth of crash fatal car accident data for its status report, particularly focusing on driver fatalities, and compiled a list of the safest – and the most dangerous – cars.
Top 10 Safest Cars
The IIHS lists the following 10 cars as having the lowest rates of driver deaths. The vehicles are model years 2005 to 2008 and the crash data was compiled from 2006 to 2009.
- Audi A6 4-door 4WD (0 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years)
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class 4-door 4WD (0)
- Toyota Sienna (0)
- Ford Edge (0)
- Nissan Armada (0)
- Land Rover Range Rover Sport (0)
- Land Rover LR3 (0)
- Honda CR-V (7)
- Jeep Grand Cherokee (11)
- Acura MDX (11)
As you will notice, there are quite a few SUVs that made the list. In years past, SUVs were considered unsafe for drivers given the high risk of rollovers. Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research, explains: “The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that’s no longer the case, thanks to ESC.”
ESC refers to electronic stability control, a computerized technology that detects and reduces the loss of traction. Most SUVs are now equipped with ESC, greatly improving vehicle stability and reducing the risk of rollover. The technology is now mandatory in many countries, including Canada.
Top 10 Runners Up
The next ten safest cars on the road – based on driver deaths – are as follows.
- Mercedes E-Class 4-door (12 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years)
- Lexus RX 400h (12)
- Lexus GX 470 (13)
- Mercedes M-Class (14)
- Saab 9-3 4-door (16)
- Kia Sedona (16)
- Honda Odyssey (17)
- Jeep Wrangler (17)
- Honda Accord (19)
- Jeep Wrangler 2-door (20)
It’s interesting to note that the lighter the vehicle, the higher the risk of death for drivers. Pound for pound, SUVs have some of the lowest driver death rates. During the four-year period the IIHS studied, there were 71 deaths per one million registered vehicle years among cars weighing less than 2,500 lbs. On the other end of the spectrum, there were 41 deaths per one million registered vehicle years among cars weighing 4,001 to 4,500 lbs.
Most Dangerous Cars on the Road
In its report, the IIHS also provided a list of all the vehicles in which there were more than 75 driver deaths per million registered vehicles. Below are the most dangerous cars for drivers and their respective driver deaths per million registered vehicle years.
- Nissan 350Z 2-door (143 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years)
- Nissan Titan crew cab (126)
- Chevrolet Aveo (119)
- Chevrolet Cobalt (117)
- Nissan Titan extended cab (111)
- Kia Spectra (102)
- Chevrolet Malibu Classic (99)
- Hyundai Tiburon (96)
- Nissan Versa (96)
- Chevrolet Colorado extended cab (93)
- Nissan Titan crew cab (92)
- Kia Rio (89)
- Kia Spectra (87)
- Mazda Miata MX-5 (83)
- Subaru Legacy (83)