How do define a dangerous car? At Autos Cheat Sheet, we have tackled the concept from a variety of angles, from those that hit the road without front brakes to those that killed the highest number of drivers in accidents over the years. Both approaches make sense, and we hope consumers take these factors into account when shopping for a new or used vehicle.
Continuing in this tradition, we take a look at the automobiles that have been behind the most insurance claims for personal injury. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), known chiefly for its Top Safety Pick awards, also lists the cars and trucks that are involved in the highest (and lowest) amount of insurance losses.
Think of them as the anti-Top Safety Picks, or Bottom Safety Picks — the vehicles you choose when keeping occupants safe falls near the end of your priority list. Here are the seven vehicles with the highest frequency of personal injury claims for drivers and other vehicle occupants. Information covers model years 2012 through 2014.
7. Chrysler 200
Though it has nabbed the Top Safety Pick+ designation on multiple occasions, the Chrysler 200 apparently had issues protecting passengers. Model years 2012 through 2014 featured the seventh-highest frequency of personal injury claims to insurance providers. Worth noting is the 200’s size: Only one other car not classified as small or mini ended up with such a high percentage of injury claims. We don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the other one was a Chrysler Group vehicle, too.
6. Nissan Rogue
Nissan turned around the safety specs of the Rogue with its redesign for 2014, when it became a Top Safety Pick. The previous edition was one one of the biggest offenders as far as personal injury claims go. With 100 being the average frequency of injury claims to insurance companies, Rogue drivers behind the wheel of the two-wheel drive model dealt with a score of 171. In this game, the higher score loses every time.
5. Kia Forte
The Kia Forte had a Top Safety Pick designation for the years in question despite the small car’s poor performance in the small overlap front test introduced in 2013. All the while, it was racking up an unusually high number of claims in the personal injury department. Small cars like this one are more dangerous by their very nature, so consumers should consider this factor if you plan to drive frequently on the highway.
4. Mitsubishi Lancer
If you’ve felt as if Mitsubishi has been hanging on, trying to avoid the fate of Suzuki in America, you’re not alone. Things might change with the new Outlander models (including a plug-in) headed to the U.S. market in 2016, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, plan to drive carefully if you are shopping for a Lancer; this model actually tied for fourth and fifth place in claim frequency (176), but we made sure to give it fourth on its own because it ranked second overall in medical payments made by insurance companies. That suggests that injuries are worse in a Lancer.
3. Nissan Versa
Continuing the run of small cars that turned up with the most personal injury claims is the Nissan Versa. Like the Kia Forte, the Versa actually had the designation of Top Safety Pick for the years in question. Once the small overlap front crash test came into being, that went away. As far as overall personal injury claims go, the Versa (and Versa Note) are third on the list of the worst offenders with a score of 178.
2. Dodge Avenger
You still see the Dodge Avenger filling up rental car fleets, so be careful even if you are going a few hundred miles some weekend out of town in the future. This vehicle has been one of the most dangerous for drivers despite the fact it’s a midsize sedan, racking up the second-highest frequency of personal injury claims (184) over the span of three model years. So let’s be grateful the Avenger was retired after the 2014 model year: Like some other cars on this list, Avenger was a Top Safety Pick throughout this period.
1. Mitsubishi Mirage
After a hiatus of more than a decade, the Mitsubishi Mirage returned to the U.S. market for the 2014 model year. Before long, it became responsible for the highest frequency of personal injury claims made to insurance companies. In fact, the Mirage blew out the competition for this dubious distinction, surpassing the frequency of the second-worst by 28 points with a score of 213. The small overlap front is the chief area of liability for this tiny car. What’s next for the Mirage? A redesign for 2017. Insure yourself appropriately.