Mike Stevens | Aug 10, 2012

Victoria's Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has released new data on Australia's safest used cars, listing the best and worst buys.

Announced annually, the Used Car Safety Ratings is the result of collaborative research between MUARC, VicRoads, the Transport Accident Commission and insurer RACV.

This year's list details 197 models built between 1996 and 2011, their rankings based on safety equipment, ANCAP crash test ratings, and 5.8 million crashes in Australia and New Zealand.

Headlining the list is a number of cars awarded a 5-Star safety rating, including recent variants of the Mazda2, Ford Falcon and Subaru Forester.

Announcing the list today, Roads Minister Terry Mulder said that each of the above models can be found on the used-car market for under $12,000.

The safest car on the list is BMW's first-generation X5 SUV, sold here between 2001 and 2008.

In total, 29 vehicles landed the Safe Pick rating - up from 19 in last year's list. The latest Safe Pick list included 19 small, medium and large passenger cars produced after 2001.

Safe Pick awards were only given to cars that ranked well not only for occupant safety, but also for the safety of other road users.

The list reveals that while the list of top-safety buys is growing, there is still a large number of unsafe vehicles on the used-car market.

"Despite newer vehicles having to comply with specific safety standards, not all new vehicles rate well. The Daewoo Tacuma 2004 model and 1999 Nissan Pulsar received just one star each," Mr Mulder said.

MUARC's Dr Stuart Newstead added that buyers should also not look to larger vehicles as a safety sure-thing.

“While most large cars tend to rate well, there are some that don't and it is those vehicles that Victorian families should be wary of when they are looking to buy their family car," Dr Newstead said.

"You might feel safe just being in a large, heavy vehicle but in many cases, a greater vehicle-weight offers no safety advantage," he added.

The 2003 Mitsubishi Starwagon, which seats seven, received just two stars.

The full list can be found in PDF form here (left-click to open in browser, or right-click and select 'save').

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