When it comes to accidents and road safety, driver skill and error are only part of the equation. If you begin with an unsafe car, you greatly increase the chances of an accident turning ugly, while putting your whole family at risk. Keeping this in mind, you should avoid cars with low impact ratings and high rollover risk factors. So, let the following list of the nine most unsafe cars on the road serve as a starting point on your voyage to finding a safe new car:
1. Hyundai Elantra
While a good choice for a basic sedan that won’t hurt the wallet, the Hyundai Elantra unfortunately suffers when it comes to safety. According to the IIHS, it has suffered most in multi-vehicle crashes compared to other vehicles in its class, giving a good reason for alarm. It does not even have standard systems like ABS and traction control.
2. Ford Ranger
While the Ford Ranger might appear to be a tough vehicle, lacks more advanced safety features, making it unsafe on the road. Side airbags and curtain bags aren’t available, even as an option, and neither is stability control. Furthermore, the Ford Ranger has received a low three-star NHTSA rollover rating, corresponding to a 20% to 30% risk of rollover in a single-vehicle crash, which is one of the highest rollover risk factors (0.3) of any vehicle.
3. Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier has received three stars in both rollover and crash tests, causing one to rethink its safety quality. Stability control is optional but highly recommended, given the rollover ratings, as well as side and curtain airbags.
4. Toyota Yaris
Although the Toyota Yaris offers good fuel consumption levels and high expected reliability, safety is a lacking feature, given its compact size. The Yaris performs badly in both major side-crash tests, with three stars from NHTSA and a “Poor” rating from the IIHS.
5. Hyundai Accent
Surprisingly, the Hyundai Accent tested near the bottom of the list among all cars, according to IIHS crash test scores. The organization gave it a “poor” rating for both side-impact and rear-impact tests, along with just an acceptable frontal-impact rating.
6. Toyota Matrix
When it comes to numbers, the Toyota Matrix has received four and five-star results in the federal government’s crash tests. However, note that the side airbags are optional, without which the Matrix gets only three stars for front-seat passengers in the side-impact test, making it a less safe choice.
7. Kia Rio
Similar in body style to the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio gets a low three-star NHTSA side impact rating, with low “Poor” ratings in both side- and rear-impact tests, along with just an “acceptable” rating for frontal impacts.
8. Chevrolet Cobalt
While appearing to be solid on the surface, the Chevrolet Cobalt leaves behind an absolutely terrible record for driver deaths, resulting in lower safety scores. Along with average side-collision scores as well, the NHTSA has found a higher-than-average probability of head trauma.
9. Toyota Scion tC
As is typical of small coupes, the tC boasts solid handling and relatively low roll-over scores. However, side-impact airbags don’t come standard, increasing the risk of injury when it comes to accidents. It has received a just-acceptable side-impact rating of four stars.
Staying away from these unsafe models will help keep you and your family safe on the road, avoiding potential damage from driving a cheap car that may save money in the short term, but cost heavily in the future. When in doubt, always pick a car that puts safety ratings above all else. Jeep Wrangler and Ford Edge are good examples of that type of vehicle.