The safety rating of the vehicle you drive can have life-changing consequences not only for you but also for other road users, especially vulnerable ones. Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has released its annual Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) for 2023 which includes a new “Overall Safety” star rating assigned to each vehicle model. The UCSR is underpinned by real-world statistical analysis of more than 9 million vehicles involved in police-reported crashes and 2.5 million injured road users in Australia and New Zealand between 1987-2021.

This webinar explores the new UCSRs, what contributed to the overall safety score, the 2023 “Safer Pick” vehicles you should buy and those you should avoid. Joining MUARC expert Professor Stuart Newstead is Blake Harris of the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) who will explain how the UCSRs are translated into their website How Safe is Your Car | Vehicle Crash Test Results & Safety Ratings.

Choosing the safest vehicle for your budget could be one of the most important decisions you and your family make. We hope you enjoy this webinar and it helps inform your vehicle selection.

In 2023, the ratings have been expanded to focus on not only how a vehicle protects the driver, but also its impact on other road users in a crash and its crash avoidance technology.

The new “Overall Safety” star rating assigned to each vehicle model combines the scores for:

  • Driver Safety: How well the vehicle protects its driver from being killed or seriously injured in a crash
  • Other Road User Safety: How well the vehicle protects other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists from being killed or seriously injured in a crash
  • Crash Avoidance: The reduction in crash involvement risk resulting from the availability of proven crash avoidance technologies in the vehicle such as electronic stability control, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, roll stability control and reversing cameras and sensors.

This year, 518 vehicle models were rated out of 5 stars for Overall Safety in addition to Driver Safety, Other Road User Safety and Crash Avoidance, with 1-star being the worst for safety and 5-stars indicating the top 20% of vehicles for relative safety performance. This provides consumers with 106 vehicles allocated a 5-star Overall Safety rating. Eighty-seven of those vehicles also scored 5-stars for Driver Safety and at least 3-stars for Other Road User Safety and Crash Avoidance and were awarded ‘Safer Pick’ status.

The 20 Safer Pick vehicles that received 5-stars in every category are (in alphabetical order):

  • Audi A4/S4/RS4/AllRoad                    (MY 2008-2015)
  • Honda CR-V                                            (MY 2017-2021)
  • Honda Odyssey                                       (MY 2013-2021)
  • Jeep Cherokee                                         (MY 2014-2021)
  • Kia Cerato                                                 (MY 2018-2021)
  • Land Rover Range Rover Sport           (MY 2005-2013)
  • Mazda 3/Axela                                        (MY 2013-2019)
  • Mazda 6/Atenza                                      (MY 2012-2021)
  • Mazda CX-3                                              (MY 2015-2021)
  • Mazda CX-5                                              (MY 2017-2021)
  • Mazda CX-9                                              (MY 2016-2021)
  • Mitsubishi Outlander                             (MY 2012-2021)
  • Mitsubishi Pajero Sport                         (MY 2015-2021)
  • Mercedes Benz E-Class W212/C207/A207   (MY 2009-2016)
  • Subaru Impreza/XV                               (MY 2016-2021)
  • Toyota C-HR                                            (MY 2016-2021)
  • Toyota Camry                                          (MY 2017-2021)
  • Toyota Corolla                                         (MY 2018-2021)
  • Toyota RAV4                                           (MY 2019-2021)
  • Volkswagen Tiguan                               (MY 2016-2021)

For motorists on a budget, the 2023 UCSR show that safer choices are also affordable, with more than half the ‘Safer Pick’ vehicles available second hand for less than AU$10,000, and all but two available for less than AU$25,000.

The 2023 UCSR also highlight the improvements in vehicle safety over the last 30 years. Most ‘Safer Pick’ vehicles were manufactured since 2006, with data showing that on average, a vehicle manufactured in 2021 reduces the risk of road users being killed or seriously injured by 33% compared to a vehicle manufactured in 2001. Additionally, newer vehicles provide reduced crash involvement risk through their range of crash avoidance technologies such as such as Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Electronic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control and reversing cameras and sensors.

Research lead and MUARC Director, Professor Stuart Newstead, noted that the enhanced scope of the ratings will empower consumers to make a safer choice.

“Serious road trauma resulting from the worst-rated car is more than ten times that of the best rated car in the same crash with the same driver,” he said.

“If we want to optimise the safety of the fleet, we have to be wary of not just how the vehicle protects you as the driver, but also the injury risk the vehicle poses to other road users. The change in focus of the Used Car Safety Ratings to consider the ‘Overall Safety’ rating reflecting serious trauma risk the vehicle poses to all road users is a significant step towards this holistic approach to road safety.”