When buying a new or used car, the model's safety record is always an important consideration. While all new cars and trucks must meet stringent federal safety standards, certain models still fall short in real-world use and develop reputations as unsafe vehicles. Dangerous cars can be large or small and a higher price does not always equate to a safer vehicle. Here are five different models that represent a range of dangerous cars.
GM's Chevy Trailblazer has put up poor numbers in crash tests, faring somewhat better in front impact scenarios but putting passengers at risk of severe trauma when the vehicle is hit from the sides or rear. As a mid-size SUV, the Trailblazer is also a rollover risk during fast turns or in slippery conditions. Many other cars and SUVs in the Trailblazer's £19,500 price range include more safety features and perform better in crash tests.
The Jeep Wrangler is another SUV that poses an increased likelihood of rollover due to its high centre of gravity and short wheelbase. The prevalence of aftermarket lift kits means that many Wranglers on the road are even more unstable than when they left the factory. Wranglers also contain removable doors that are not as structurally sound as the permanent doors on other off-road SUV models. Wranglers produced before 1997 contain only a short roll cage, leaving rear seat passengers unprotected in the case of a rollover.
The Smart Fortwo microcar is an increasingly popular model, especially with young, urban drivers. However, the same small size that makes it convenient to park and inexpensive to fuel poses a series of safety risks. In a collision with an SUV or even a large car, the Fortwo is likely to sustain major damage and occupant safety may be minimal. The Fortwo's size also makes it less visible to other motorists, as it can more easily disappear into a driver's blind spot. Quality of construction is another concern, with some Fortwo crash tests seeing unusual problems such as doors that come open upon impact.
The entry-level Chevy Aveo is another small car that has been called unsafe. Unlike some popular entry-level imports like the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, the Aveo comes with minimal safety equipment as part of price-reducing measures by GM. Aveos lack items such as side curtain airbags and stability or traction control systems. Other features like anti-lock brakes are only available on more expensive trim levels. Crash test data is mixed on the Aveo, but significantly below the scores earned by its major competitors.
The Ford Ranger is an entry-level pickup from one of the world's biggest truck makers. Safety concerns involving the Ranger centre around its generally poor crash test performance, with below average scores in all categories. The Ranger is also a moderate rollover risk. Like many entry-level models, advanced safety equipment is reserved for higher trim levels. The use of pickup trucks for towing or carrying large payloads by untrained or inexperienced drivers contributes to the prevalence of real-world danger.