When a used car is in your sights, one of the primary considerations has to be its crashworthiness. The only way to know whether a particular used car is rated safe or not is to check its safety ratings from two entities: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If a used car has a “poor” score, especially in the IIHS’s small overlap front test, steer clear of it. If there is a “poor” score in side testing and acceptable in others, it’s probably best to look for another used car with higher scores. Only cars with four or five stars in overall safety ratings from the NHTSA should be considered. Any used car with three stars or less should be avoided.
Looking over used cars with poor safety ratings, we’ve compiled the following list of nine to avoid.
2011-2014– The subcompact 2011-2014 Hyundai Accent may be a fuel-efficient, affordable car, but it’s definitely not the safest. For the 2013 and 2014 model years the Accent received a “poor” score in the small overlap front test, “acceptable” in the side testing and “good” in other categories. The redesigned 2012 Accent received a “poor” score in the small overlap front test, “acceptable” in the side test and “good” in other tests. The 2011 Accent received a “poor” score in the side tests and only “acceptable” in other tests. The 2011 Accent was not tested by the NHTSA, but did have a four-star rollover rating, while the 2014 Accent has a four-star overall rating but with a “safety concern.”
2014 – Reintroduced after a long absence (the last Mirage was in 2001), the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage minicar suffers from a “poor” rating in the IIHS small overlap front test, while other test scores are “good.” Going back to the 2001 Mirage, the rating was “poor” in moderate overlap front test. The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage was not rated by the NHTSA
2010-2011 – Frugal with gas, easy to maneuver and inexpensive, the 2010-2011 Honda Fit doesn’t fare as well in IIHS safety ratings, earning a “poor” in small overlap front, “acceptable” in roof strength and “good” in other tests. Note that the 2012-2013 Fit is an IIHS Top Safety Pick but still scores “poor” in the small overlap front test. The 2010 Honda Fit earned a five-star overall NHTSA rating, while the 2011 model was not rated, except for a four-star rollover rating.
2014 Nissan Versa – Another subcompact car that failed the IIHS small overlap front test, the 2014 Nissan Versa sedan received “good” scores in other test categories. The 2013 model, which had the same scores, was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, a designation it could not secure for the 2014 model year. The 2014 Versa received a four-star overall NHTSA safety rating (but a three-star frontal crash rating).
2014 c – Consumers concerned about safety should probably look at a different Toyota model than the 2014 Prius c, as this minicar scored “poor” in the small overlap front test (although it received “good” in all other testing). The 2012 and 2013 , which received the same scores as the 2014, was named IIHS Top Safety Picks. In NHTSA testing, the 2014 Prius c has a four-star overall rating but with “safety concern.”
2014 – With more rigid criteria for IIHS Top Safety Pick status, the cute but tiny 2014 Fiat 500, which scored “poor” in small overlap front test but “good” in all other testing, should probably be a minicar you don’t want to buy. The 2012 and 2013 Fiat 500 models, however, were named Top Safety Picks (and had the same scores). NHTSA gave the 2014 Fiat 500 a four-star overall safety rating.
2008 – If you’re looking for a small car with good safety ratings, definitely pass by the 2008 Toyota Corolla. It received “poor” scores in side tests without optional airbags and head restraints and seats, and “acceptable” in the side tests with optional airbags, although the Corolla received a “good” score in moderate overlap front testing. NHTSA gave the 2008 Corolla a five-star overall rating.
2008-2009 sedan – Although discontinued to make way for the all-new 2011 Chevy Cruze, used car buyers looking for an affordable small car with good safety ratings should skip the 2008-2009 Chevrolet Cobalt sedan. The small car received a “poor” score in the side tests without optional airbags and “acceptable” in side testing with optional airbags and “good” in other tests. NHTSA gave the Cobalt a four-star overall rating (coupe and sedan).
2011 – Earning a “poor” score in IIHS side testing and only “acceptable” in other tests, the 2011 Kia Rio minicar should not be on your used car shopping list – if you’re at all concerned with occupant safety. In NHTSA testing, the 2011 Kia Rio was not rated, except for a four-star rollover rating.