IIHS Lists Deadliest Vehicles


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released a list of the deadliest vehicles on the road between 2002 and 2005. The list below identifies the most- and least-deadly cars and trucks, but they’re all 2001 - 2004 vehicles. It’s important to note that in just the three model years since then, there have been significant strides made in automotive safety, especially with the proliferation of standard safety equipment. Many of the vehicles mentioned are not produced any longer, and many have been significantly updated or redesigned entirely.

While many news outlets may point out the horrifying numbers in the report (125,000 deaths over four years is a huge number of fatalities), we do want to mention that IIHS states very far up in the report that between 1990 and 1994 there were 110 deaths per million registered vehicles. That number fell to 87 per million between 1999 and 2002 and, in the latest report, from 2002 - 2005 it was 79 per million. IIHS calls that decline of nearly 30% a significant improvement.

One interesting thing in the numbers is that the smallest vehicles in every segment are more dangerous than larger models, with the exception of sports cars and large SUVs, which show the opposite trend.

Source: IIHS

Lowest Vehicle Deaths Per Million Vehicles

  • Chevrolet Astro: minivan very large                    7 
  • Infiniti G35: luxury car midsize                           11
  • BMW 7 Series: luxury car very large                   11
  • Toyota 4Runner: 4WD SUV midsize                    13
  • Audi A4/S4 Quattro: 4dr car midsize                   14
  • Mercedes E-Class: luxury car large                     14
  • Toyota Highlander: 4WD SUV midsize                  14
  • Mercedes M-Class: 4WD SUV midsize                  14
  • Toyota Sienna: minivan very large                     17
  • Honda Odyssey: minivan very large                    17
  • Lexus ES 330: luxury car midsize                       18
  • Lexus RX 330: 2WD SUV midsize                        18
  • Toyota Sequoia: 2WD SUV large                        18
  • Honda Pilot: 4WD SUV midsize                           19
  • BMW X5: 4WD SUV midsize                               19

Highest Vehicle Deaths Per Million Vehicles

  • Chevrolet Blazer: 2dr 2WD SUV midsize             232
  • Acura RSX: 2dr car small                                202
  • Nissan 350Z: sports car midsize                       193
  • Kia Spectra: hatchback 4dr car small                191
  • Pontiac Sunfire: 2dr car small                          179
  • Kia Rio: 4dr car mini                                       175
  • Chevrolet Cavalier: 2dr car small                      171
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse: 2dr car small                       169
  • Dodge Neon: 4dr car small                              161
  • Pontiac Grand Am: 2dr car midsize                    160
  • Chevrolet Cavalier: 4dr car small                      150
  • Ford Mustang: sports car midsize                     150
  • Ford Ranger: 4WD pickup small                        150
  • Mazda B Series: 2WD pickup small                    147
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse: convertible sports car small   146
  • Mitsubishi Montero: Sport 2WD SUV midsize       146
By David Thomas | April 19, 2007 | Comments (18)
Tags: Safety


You can't take these lists strictly at face value, because they don't represent solely the crashworthiness of the vehicles the way a crash test does. The protection is a factor, but this is from actual fatality data, so it also reflects how the cars are driven and by whom.

The models with the lowest death rates are mostly luxury vehicles and/or large, lumbering types. The buyers are typically older, more financially secure and/or more family/safety oriented.

Those with the highest rates are far more affordable and more sporty -- typically driven by younger people and/or those who drive more aggressively. If you were to switch the demographic of both lists, the difference in vehicles would improve survivability for one group and decrease it for the other -- but the distribution would be different, and I suspect there would be fewer fatalities overall. --JW

I totally agree except for the Top of the list blazer, kia rio/spectra, grand am, Ranger and Montero other than most are affordable don't really strike me as something young and restless drivers look for.

A. Wofford

True, but sometimes the cheap ones are all that a bad driver can afford (after having to replace a few).

Anyone reading this should realize that this should not influence your decisions about which vehicle is safest, but rather, which vehicle is likely to cost you more to insure.

I don't know if that's entirely accurate. I just can't believe the Blazer numbers are all the drivers' faults.
RSX maybe, but the Blazer?
Take into acct the platforms age and lack of safety figures and I think that has more to do with it than the driver.

I will say I have seen more than one Dodge Neon SRT4s ripped in half in local news stories about teenagers dying in high speed situations. The first time I was shocked by the sight of it, the second time I couldn't believe it happened in the exact same way.

Bob B

One obvious example of this, is the G35 and 350Z numbers. They basically have the same chassis, but the G35 has 11 fatalities, and the 350Z 193 deaths. The driving style is definitely a factor, as well as the total number of cars on the road. The more cars, the more the potential for fatlities.


Well look at it this way. They have been making Rangers, Blazers and most of the "Deadliest" cars have been made since the 60s to the 80's. Most of the safe cars have been around only a few years. But the RDX, Neon and the Kia's have been around only a few years. And the Astro! How about that!


One more thing does the Sunfire include the Sunbird too?

Juan Carlos

how does the number of cars sold affect this?


The more of one car on the road. the more likly to be in a accedent.


How far does this date back to?


It's a rate - deaths per million vehicles. What it really should be is deaths per 1000 in a serious crash. So perhaps the methodology is flawed.


Well the 80's cars did not have the safety features of the newer cars.


That would be a different measure. This combines both crash avoidance technology with how safe a vehicle is in a crash. While what you propose would be useful, it would be different.
This does, as already mentioned, have the flaw of also including typical driver. So many factors in one measure makes it hard to discern an individual factor. However, for entities like insurance companies, they don't care about the individual factors, only the overall picture.


Hey Folks,
Remember, it's also about "technology" ...
That has saved me considerable stress on many
Half of the car (in my estimation) is the
drive train and tires. People who buy the unsafe
vehicles are more likely to look for something
"big" and not know anything about "traction" and
power distribution.
For example, my 1987 Toyota Supra (long gone)
came, standard, with a limited slip diffential,
... as in, with decent all-season tires, I could
drive through any Chicago winter - no problem.
I don't know much about American cars, but
I doubt that a Camero or Firebird, even today,
comes, standard, with a limited slip diffential. If you
don't know what that is, try driving one for a
while. You _will_ notice the difference.
And, yes, that "technology" does cost a bit
extra, but it's worth it.


i can believe the dodge neon is on the list. i own one and put a huge dent in it after taking out a helpless mailbox so i can only imagine what would happen if i was invovled in something serious. however u would think the number of deaths would be higher for the two sports cars on the list.

ken g.

The biggest key to all of the safety ratings is the fact that the car/truck does nothing on it's own, but needs a driver inside. All of us must learn to drive the machine for what it is and stop acting like it's a piece of furniture. And I mean really learn the functions of driving, the same as we airplane pilots must do to get and keep our licenses. Even my single engine four seater plane requires extensive training and re-testing to get and stay licensed. If automobile operators were reguired to know what pilots know then the accident rate, injury rate, and death rates would all be cut in half. If only we would all really learn to drive it would cost less in the long run despite the appearent higher initial cost to learn in this manner.


It has been and always be The bigger the vehicle the safer you are. I think the data shows this. The Highway and Traffic Committe that test vehicles (along with consumer reports(if you can trust those people))don't test ALL vehicles the same. Large vehicles are tested at 35 mph while small vehicles (under political pressure) are tested at 25 and 30 mph. So you can't trust their test either. Most accidents I have seen have been in excess of 65 mph and itty bitty care don't do well.

This is an important topic, and so is convertible safety in general. It is why California Drivers for Convertible Safety (CDFCS) is pushing for mandatory helmetage for all drivers and passengers of convertible motorcars by the year 2012.

Our children are our most precious resource. Visit http://www.convertiblesafety.com for more information.

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