Small cars have long held the reputation of being “death traps” and new data backs up the safety stereotype.
A study of 2017 model year cars by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found minicars to have the highest driver death rates of all vehicle types.
The report calculated the number of driver deaths per million registered vehicle years and included up to three prior model years for vehicles that hadn't been significantly updated for 2017 to create the largest possible data set. It found that the average rate for all vehicles is 36 -- marking a 20 percent jump from the last time the study was conducted for 2014 models -- and 82 for all minicars, with four-door minicars at 108.
The worst offender was the Ford Fiesta four-door at 141, followed by the Hyundai Accent four-door (116) and Chevrolet Sonic four-door (98).
"We look forward to learning what we can from the study to help do that, even as we continue investing in and developing key new technologies," a Ford spokesperson told Automotive News
Large four-wheel-drive luxury SUVs fared the best with a rating of 5, while luxury SUVs of all sizes accounted for half of the top 20 safest models list. Seven vehicles -- including the GMC Yukon XL, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volkswagen Golf – registered zero deaths during the reporting period.
A searchable database categorized by vehicle type and size can be found at this link, and breaks down the fatality rate between single-car and multi-car accidents.