Driver death rates by vehicle
Strict regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and stringent testing from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety mean that today's new cars and trucks are safer than ever before. But that doesn't mean that all vehicles are created equal.
To help car shoppers judge the relative safety of cars and trucks sold in the United States, the IIHS has compiled the rates of that drivers are killed in car crashes and has ranked individual makes and models. The data is presented as the number of driver deaths per million registered vehicle years – one vehicle registered for one full year.
On average, the IIHS says that there were 30 deaths per million registered vehicle years in America. Some vehicles, though, had much higher fatality rates.
All of the raw data can be found here, but we've gone through the list and identified eight specific vehicles with scores higher than 80 driver deaths per million registered vehicles. Some of the results are expected, but a few may surprise you.
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Dodge Challenger: 81
The Dodge Challenger is the only two-door coupe you'll see on this list of cars with the highest driver death rates. It's also the most powerful. The base engine for 2014, the year that these statistics are based on, was a 305-hp 3.6-liter V6, but a big Hemi V8 with as much as 470 horsepower was optional.
Both the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro, which are direct competitors of the Challenger, have better driver death scores from the IIHS, though all three of these muscular coupes come in significantly higher than the average score of 30 deaths per million registered vehicles.
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Kia Soul: 82
The Kia Soul was brand new for the 2014 model year, and it was bigger outside and roomier inside than before. It's a fun car with unique styling and peppy performance for its class. But, with a driver death rate of 82, it might not be the safest choice.
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Ford Fiesta: 83
The Fiesta is the smallest vehicle that Ford sells in America. And, as you'll see as you keep scrolling through this list, small cars generally have higher driver death rates. The Fiesta was and is available both as a sedan and a hatchback, and this rating specifically applies to the four-door sedan.
Although small cars make up the majority of this list, it's worth noting that not all subcompact vehicles have such high driver death numbers. With a rating of 40, the Mazda2 is the subcompact car with the best rating, according to the IIHS. Unfortunately, that vehicle has been discontinued in the United States.
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Nissan Versa: 95
The Nissan Versa makes headlines for its low price and comparatively roomy interior for is class. And with its continuously variable automatic transmission, it's also very fuel efficient. But, with a driver death rate of 95, the Versa again proves that small size potentially equals diminished safety.
Of all vehicles that the IIHS classifies in the Mini category, the two-door Fiat 500 hatchback has the best score at 13 driver deaths per million registered vehicles.
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Chevy Spark: 96
The Chevy Spark sets itself apart from the rest of the subcompact car class with bold styling and a low sticker price. But it can't escape the small-car curse of high driver death rates, coming in fourth-worst place on this list.
Some other models from Chevrolet have much better ratings on this list. Moving up one size class, the electrified Chevy Volt has a rating of 7 driver deaths per million registered vehicles, which is the lowest of all small cars ranked by the IIHS.
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Scion tC: 101
The Scion brand no longer exists, and neither does the tC coupe. But it's still widely available on the used-car market, so its inclusion on this list remains noteworthy. With a driver death rate of 101, the tC comes in third-worst for the 2014 model year.
Kia Rio: 102
Available as either a practical hatchback or sporty looking sedan, the Kia Rio offers a lot of features for a comparatively low cost of entry. But it's a small car, and, as you've already seen on this list, that doesn't help its driver death rating. But there's one vehicle that scores even lower...
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Hyundai Accent: 104
With a driver rating of 104 driver deaths per million registered vehicles, the Hyundai Accent has the worst score of any vehicle sold in 2014, the latest year that the IIHS has sufficient information to compile.
The Accent is actually a bit larger than most of its competition, but that doesn't seem to help its driver safety score.
Hyundai's sporty Veloster, which the IIHS classifies as a small two-door car, has a significantly better score of 28, according to the IIHS. The five-door hatchback Hyundai Elantra GT also has a score of 28, which is slightly better than the average new vehicle sold in 2014.