If you buy a used car, you avoid the hefty premium we all have to pay for a new one. But how do you ensure you’re not skimping on safety?
The good folk at How Safe is Your Car have tested the lot, and come up with some great safety rankings to help you in your quest for the perfect used car.
In Part 1 of Are You Selling’s study, we check out the models which came out top in the Small Used Car class, all gaining a ‘Safe Pick’ recommendation on the How Safe Is Your Car website. Each of these cars was awarded a five-star Driver Protection rating in the 2014-15 Used Car Safety Rating report, generated annually by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC). No car can eliminate risk entirely, but some do a much better job than others.
Holden Cruze JG/JS 09-12
This model was introduced in Australia during May 2009, and the safety rating applies to all Cruze models manufactured between 2009 and 2012, including hatch, sedan and wagon with diesel or petrol engines.
It scored 15.04 out of 16 in the offset crash test, and 16 out of 16 for the side impact crash test. The Cruze has dual front airbags, side airbags with chest and pelvis protection and head-protecting side curtains, along with antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist and electronic stability control (ESC).
It’s worth noting that that the previous Holden Cruze 02-06 model scored only one star in the ratings – offering a ‘very poor’ standard of protection.
Honda Civic 06-11
This model hit Australian roads in 2006. It scored 13.54 out of 16 in the offset crash test, with the passenger compartment holding its shape well. Protection from serious leg injury, though, was marginal for the driver. The Honda scored 14.36 out of 16 in the side impact crash test.
It has dual front airbags, ABS and EBD. But side airbags, head-protecting side curtains and ESC are only available on selected Australian models.
Peugot 307, 01-09
As well as providing a five-star driver safety rating, the 307 is also ranked as giving excellent protection for other road users.
Introduced in Australia in 2001, this model has dual airbags, side airbags and head-protecting side curtains as standard equipment.
It scored 11.602 out of 16 in the offset crash test, involving some slight risk of serious injury to both driver and passenger. However, it gained 16 out of 16 in the side impact crash test.
Subaru Impreza 07-11
Gaining the maximum four-star rating for pedestrian protection, the Impreza was launched here in 2007. This model scored 14.93 out of 16 for the offset test, and 15.73 out of 16 for the side impact test.
ABS, EBD and ESC are standard, with full range of airbags – dual front and side, along with head-protecting side curtains.
Toyota Prius 03-09
Introduced to Australian in 2004, the Prius provides excellent protection to other road users. It scored 13.72 in the offset test, with the passenger compartment holding its shape well. It scored a full 16 out of 16 in the side impact test.
Dual front airbags, side airbags and head-protecting side curtains are standard in the luxury i-Tech variant, along with ABS and ESC. The front seat belt buckles are mounted on the seats and the upper anchorages are adjustable; both these features improve the fit of the seat belt.
Volkswagen Golf/Jetta 04-09
Introduced here in 2004, advanced seat belt reminders did not become standard until 2005. Scoring 12.83 out of 16 in the offset test, the Golf (pictured) and the Jetta scored 16 out of 16 in the side impact test.
All the other cars listed here did better than the VW in the offset test (apart from the Peugot 307), but two bonus points for advanced seat belt reminders pushed it up to a 5-star rating. It features a full range of airbags and curtains, along with ABS.