Top safety picks for used cars

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

The Used Car Safety Ratings guide is updated every year and provides guidance on the performance of nearly 220 models based on real world crash data in New Zealand and Australia.

This year the guide shows that 44% of used vehicles assessed received an excellent or good rating for occupant protection in a crash.

However, just 10% – 21 out of 217 – of the vehicles assessed earned a safe pick rating, which means they also provide good protection for occupants in other vehicles, pedestrians and motorcyclists in a crash.

At the bottom of the rating system, 71 models were considered poor or very poor and shouldn’t be considered as a safe purchase.

AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks says the guide provides motorists with the latest possible information on used cars – the largest car buying segment in New Zealand – enabling them to easily assess which vehicle in any category will afford them the best protection in a crash.

“The ratings in the guide are based on reports from millions of actual crashes between 1987 and 2013 reported to police in New Zealand and Australia covering about 90% of all popular passenger and light commercial vehicles, which provides a good range of choice for motorists,” she says.

“As more data is collected on each of the vehicles in the guide, we’re able to provide motorists with the best information possible enabling them to buy the safest car they can.”

There are top rating vehicles in every category and for the first time a vehicle in the light car category has earned a rating of excellent – the Ford Fiesta, manufactured between 2009 and 2013.

Ms Stocks says motorists will note some cars, especially later models, missing from the guide.

“Enough crash data is required on each vehicle in the guide to ensure the rating is robust. If a particular model hasn’t been involved in many crashes, then there’s not enough data to consider. In those cases, motorists should review a vehicle’s rating as a new car.”

Ms Stocks says new car crash test results, which are done in controlled conditions, are provided by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP).

“Motorists have a number of decisions as they consider the options for their next car and for many, price and functionality for how they intend to use it are usually at the top of the list. The Used Car Safety Ratings guide enables motorists to consider crash performance and driver protection across a variety of cars in a specific category,” she says.

The AA and the NZ Transport Agency are members of the Vehicle Safety Research Group, which commissioned the analysis of the crash data by the Monash University Accident Research Centre.

The safest cars in this year’s Used Car Safety Ratings guide:

Small cars

Holden Cruze JG/JH


Honda Civic


Peugeot 307


Subaru Impreza


Toyota Prius II


Volkswagen Golf/Jetta


Medium cars

Audi A4


Volkswagen Passat


Large cars

BMW 5 Series E39


Ford Falcon FG


Holden Statesman/Caprice WK/WL


Mercedes Benz E-Class W210


Toyota Aurion


People movers

Honda Odyssey


Compact SUVs

Mitsubishi Outlander/ Peugeot 4007


Medium SUVs

Holden Captiva CG


Mazda CX-7


Nissan Pathfinder R51


Large SUVs

Ford Territory SX/SY


Mercedes Benz M-Class W163


Toyota Kluger/Highlander