Used car shoppers have a lot to consider. To get started, we recommend checking out the list of the most reliable vehicles to see which models worked out well for their owners. Even three or four years after a new model rolls off the lot, testing agencies like Consumer Reports can reliably predict how it will perform in real-world driving.
Then there is the list of used cars and trucks to avoid. If the vehicle had trouble with transmission or electrical equipment, there will be evidence on the record. We also recommend taking a look at the vehicle’s safety record. Every four years, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) publishes the statistics on car crashes so you can see which models claimed the most driver deaths in America (and which claimed none).
The IIHS data published in May 2017 reveals there are still a number of scary vehicles out there. Here are the 25 deadliest cars and trucks on the road today. Statistics cover traffic accidents from 2011-15.
25. Subaru Impreza
While Subaru Impreza received the Top Safety Pick+ designation from 2015 through 2017, earlier models did not offer front crash prevention systems. That may have contributed to the Impreza breaking the top 25 in driver fatalities for 2014, though there are other factors (including driver error) to consider. IIHS data showed 54 deaths per million registrations for drivers of this four-wheel drive sedan, with about 90% resulting from single-vehicle crashes.
24. Chevy Camaro coupe
American muscle cars offer the most power among models costing less than $40,000, but none showed up in the top five for driver deaths. Chevrolet Camaro coupes, which had the highest sample size of any sports car, claimed the lives of 55 drivers per million registrations over the period from 2011-15. These deaths were split almost evenly between single-vehicle and multi-car crashes.
23. Ram 1500
Short-bed pickups were involved in the most driver deaths among full-size trucks from 2011-15. Ram 1500 crew cabs claimed the lives of 55 drivers per million registrations in those four years. The majority of wrecks were single-vehicle, rollover crashes. According to NHTSA rollover tests, this area was a weakness for the Ram 1500 crew cab with four-wheel drive in 2014.
22. Ford Mustang coupe
Advanced safety technology arrived in the all-new Ford Mustang that bowed in 2015, but older models won’t feature crash prevention systems. As for the previous generation, the 2014 Mustang coupe was tied to 58 driver deaths per million registrations. Over two-thirds of these were single-vehicle crashes, many of them rollover wrecks. IIHS crash tests from the period also showed some flaws in side crash tests.
21. Nissan Maxima
While most midsize sedans had strong safety records between 2011-15, there were some cars trailing the pack. Nissan Maxima was one of the worst, and its crash-test ratings at the time indicated flawed head restraints and seating. Looking at the 2014 Maxima and models from the previous three years, drivers of this car perished at a rate of 59 deaths per million registrations. About two thirds were multi-vehicle crashes.
20. Ford Mustang convertible
Mustang convertibles had marginally more fatalities than coupe models during the four-year IIHS study. For the 2014 Mustang and earlier, there were an average of 60 driver deaths per million registrations. Over 80% of those fatal crashes were multi-vehicle accidents. As with the hardtop editions, advanced safety tech became available beginning in 2015.
19. Dodge Avenger
Since Dodge axed the Avenger following the 2014 model year, consumers will only find this model on the used market. Those pre-owned sedans rank among the deadliest of the segment: Avenger drivers perished at a rate of 60 deaths per million registrations. Two thirds were of those lives were claimed in multi-vehicle accidents. IIHS crash tests showed minor flaws in the Avenger’s front overlap protection.
18. Chevrolet Impala
Though large cars had a better record than small vehicles, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala was an outlier. Drivers died in the Impala, which was all-new for that model year, at a rate of 60 per million registrations. Nearly two thirds of that group perished in multi-vehicle wrecks despite the model’s solid crash test scores. For buyers looking at Impala sedans from 2013 or earlier, those models scored slightly worse in IIHS crash tests.
17. Volkswagen Golf
Overall, the highest rate of driver deaths came from cars in the compact and mini segments. Volkswagen Golf drivers perished at a rate of 63 deaths per million registrations from model years 2011 through 2014. In this case, there was a very odd statistic: Every fatality was the result of a multi-vehicle crash. Therefore, its appearance here may be a combination of bad luck and bad driving. In three of the four years, Golf was an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
16. Mitsubishi Lancer
After decades on the market in one form or another, Mitsubishi Lancer’s production will finally end in August 2017. The two-wheel drive model, which debuted in 2008, has maintained decent safety scores the entire time. However, Lancer drivers were not bearing out the crash test results on the road. Drivers averaged 63 fatalities per million registrations behind the wheel between 2011 and 2015. Over 80% died in multi-vehicle wrecks.
15. Hyundai Accent hatchback
For most of the 21st century, Hyundai Accent has been one of the deadliest cars on U.S. roads. Accent sedans were by far the most dangerous, but hatchback models from 2012-2014 also cracked the top 15 with 63 driver deaths per million registrations. This nameplate’s primary weakness is front overlap protection, on which it scored “poor” for multiple years of IIHS crash tests. Airbags did not deploy in a way that protected dummies.
14. Ford Fiesta hatchback
The Ford Fiesta hatch from model years 2011-2014 was another model with a poor safety record when it came to protecting drivers’ lives. With a rate of 63 deaths per million registrations, fatalities were split between single- and multi-vehicle crashes. IIHS test data reveals some of the dangers during frontal collisions. “Measures from the dummy indicate that injuries to the head and left lower leg would be possible in a crash of this severity,” said the report on the front overlap test.
13. Hyundai Genesis coupe
The Hyundai Genesis coupe of model years 2011-14 did not get full testing from either the IIHS or NHTSA. From the data recorded following real-world crashes, there were some frightening results. Genesis drivers perished at a rate of 67 fatalities per million registrations. Most died during wrecks involving multiple vehicles, though about 15% came in rollover crashes.
12. Chrysler 200
Chrysler 200 from this period (2011-2014) performed well overall in crash test but had one area of vulnerability. According to the IIHS report, “The side curtain airbag deployed too late during the crash…leaving the dummy’s head vulnerable to contact with side structure and outside objects.” In real-world driving, the 200 turned out to be the deadliest of all midsize sedans. Its driver death rate was 67 fatalities per million registrations, with about two thirds coming in multi-vehicle accidents.
11. Ford Focus sedan
While Chevy was one of the big losers on driver death reports from earlier this century, Ford’s small cars moved up the list of the industry’s most dangerous with the data released in 2017. Four-door Focus Sedans had a driver fatality rate of 68 deaths per million registrations between 2011-14, with about 70% coming during multi-vehicle crashes. IIHS crash tests pointed to weaknesses in the structure and safety cage of this model during the front overlap test.
10. Nissan Sentra
Among family cars in the midsize or compact segments, no model topped Nissan Sentra in driver fatalities over the four years in question. Using the 2013-14 Sentra as the test model, the data showed 72 deaths per million registrations with about 65% coming in multi-vehicle wrecks. In this case, the diagnosis is clear: Sentra sedans from that period had a rating of “poor” in IIHS crash tests, with the report warning of a driver’s space “seriously compromised by [the] intruding structure.”
9. Nissan Titan
You might feel safe driving a big truck like the Nissan Titan crew cab (short bed), but the two-wheel drive model was by far the most dangerous pickup on the road since 2011. IIHS crash tests found weakness in the trucks’s roof strength, and that was likely a factor in the 73 driver deaths per million registrations. Nearly all (85%) these fatal crashes were single-vehicle wrecks, with about half coming in rollover accidents. The combination of inadequate roof strength and propensity to roll over represents a major weakness in Titans from 2011-14.
8. Dodge Challenger
The modern Dodge Challenger began its run in 2008, and the model has never performed particularly well in crash tests. Small front overlap tests yielded a “marginal” score, while “poor” was the rating for structure and safety cage protection for the 2015 model year. Frighteningly, these scores represented improvements on the safety front. On the road, earlier Challengers (2011-14) made it by far the deadliest muscle car with 81 driver deaths per million registrations. About 60% died in multi-vehicle crashes.
7. Kia Soul
The new Kia Soul (introduced for 2014) has decent safety ratings, but the 2010-13 model proved to be the deadliest in the “small wagon” category and No. 7 overall. Its most obvious failing came in front overlap crash tests, for which it received a “poor” rating. “The driver’s space was seriously compromised by intruding structure,” the report read. On the road, Soul drivers died at a rate of 82 fatalities per million registrations, with about 60% following multi-vehicle crashes.
6. Ford Fiesta sedan
The Ford Fiesta sedan from this period (model years 2011-14) won several Top Safety Pick designations but had a weakness in front overlap crash tests. “Measures from the dummy indicate that injuries to the head and left lower leg would be possible in a crash of this severity,” the IIHS report said when it rated the Fiesta “marginal.” On the road, drivers died at a rate of 83 times per million registrations, with two thirds the result of multi-vehicle wrecks.
5. Nissan Versa
Even with two Top Safety Pick wins between 2011 and 2014, Nissan Versa had a clear weakness in front overlap protection. IIHS testing found the airbag deployment would end up “leaving the head vulnerableto contact with [the] forward structure.” In real-world crashes during the four-year span, Versa drivers died at a rate of 95 fatalities per million registrations. A little over 60% died following multi-vehicle crashes in this car. Earlier models fared even worse on U.S. roads.
4. Chevrolet Spark
Anyone driving a minicar knows the risks involved with a crash, and the numbers reflected that vulnerability. Some 96 drivers died per million registrations when driving the Spark that first appeared in 2013. About 70% of the fatalities came when drivers crashed with other vehicles. IIHS tests found vulnerability in driver side airbags. Despite deploying, it did not provide “…sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with forward side structure and outside objects.”
3. Scion tC
Scion tC was the only car outside of the mini class to rank among the five deadliest in America. Despite a strong record in IIHS crash tests from the era, the 2011-14 tC had a driver death rate of 101 per million registrations. A statistical anomaly was how drivers died. As opposed to most cars in the top 15, the majority of tC driver fatalities came in single-vehicle crashes, about half of which were rollovers. This rollover fatality rate was second-worst among all vehicles in the report.
2. Kia Rio
Kia Rio sedans are likely the deadliest cars in America in the 21st century. Following the 2015 IIHS report, Rio ranked first with a driver death rate of 149 per million registrations. When the 2017 numbers appeared, this car improved considerably (102 deaths per million registrations) but came in a close second among all vehicles. IIHS crash tests from 2012-14 models revealed vulnerabilities in the leg and head areas.
1. Hyundai Accent sedan
If highway safety is a priority, used car shoppers would be wise to avoid the 2012-14 Hyundai Accent sedan. IIHS tests of these models revealed a “seriously compromised” driver’s space with a potential for “injuries to the left hip, left knee, and left lower leg” in a crash of high severity. Crash dummies showed damage to the head as well. On the road, Accent sedan drivers perished at a rate of 104 deaths per million registrations. Since 2011, it has been the deadliest car in America.