10 of the Deadliest Cars in America

Subaru accident
Subaru accident | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

It takes years for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to compile and organize the statistics for crash deaths and the vehicles in which drivers met their end. However, the latest report tracked model-year automobiles up to 2008, allowing the IIHS to deliver stats that included traffic accident data through 2009 .

The auto safety agency ran the numbers on all vehicles with 100,000 registrations or more between 2006 and 2009, counting only the deaths of the driver (not passengers) in their statistics. In the end, the IIHS calculated a ratio of “driver death per million registered vehicles.” Needless to say, drivers shopping for used vehicles more than four years old would be advised to check the list, which we’ve laid out for your perusal below.

Here are the 10 vehicles that involved the highest number of deaths per million registrations.

10. Chevy Colorado Extended Cab

The Chevrolet Colorado Z71 truck
Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

While smaller cars were behind most recorded driver fatalities, the Chevy Colorado Extended Cab 2WD pickup from GM was one of the larger vehicles to make the top 10. In total, 2005-2008 model Colorados recorded 93 deaths per million registrations. The majority of deaths (54 per million) were the result of crashes involving no other vehicle.

9. Nissan Versa Sedan

2008 Versa Sedan
Source: Nissan

The four-door Nissan Versa tied for eighth and ninth place on the list with 96 driver deaths per million registrations for 2005-2008 models. As with the Colorado, the majority of fatalities resulted from single-vehicle crashes (60 per million), which suggests the car is difficult to control when the driver encounters dangerous situations.

8. Hyundai Tiburon

Source: Hyundai

The Hyundai Tiburon from model years 2005 through 2008 features recorded 96 fatalities per million registrations, matching the total of the Nissan Versa during the testing period. Some 63 deaths per million registrations involved single-vehicle crashes for drivers of the two-door Tiburon, which in Spanish means “shark.”

7. Chevrolet Malibu

Chevy Malibu
Source: GM

The 2005 through 2008 Chevy Malibu and Malibu Classic didn’t exactly set benchmarks for style and performance, and saw themselves relegated to vehicle fleets. The IIHS says this may have factored into the high death rate among drivers, which totaled an alarming 99 per million registrations of the four-door sedan. Out of that group, 63 per million registrations involved multiple-vehicle accidents, a reversal of the number posted by the Versa and Tiburon.

6. Kia Spectra Wagon

Kia Spectra Receives Worst Crash Test Rating
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Kia Spectra wagon from model years 2005 through 2008 put Hyundai’s corporate cousin on this list. For every million registrations, 102 drivers perished behind the wheel of a Spectra wagon — the majority, at 63 per million registrations, were involved in multiple-car crashes.

5. Nissan Titan Extended Cab

2008 Titan
Source: Nissan

The Nissan Titan 2WD extended cab pickup from models years 2005 through 2008 was something of a menace on U.S. roads for the four years in question. For every million registrations of the vehicle, 111 drivers met their deaths behind the wheel of a Titan, with a wide majority (77 per million registrations) occurring in single-vehicle crashes.

4. Chevy Cobalt

Chevy Cobalt
David McNew/Getty Images

With more recent notoriety for its role in GM’s huge ignition switch scandal, the Cobalt proved to be one of the deadliest vehicles on the road. The four-door Cobalt sedan from model years 2005 through 2008 had a death rate of 117 drivers per million registrations. Like the Malibu, the Cobalt made its way to plenty of rental fleets, a factor the IIHS says contributes to the exceptionally high number of fatalities.

3. Chevy Aveo

Chevy Aveo
Dibyangshu Sarkar/Getty Images

The fourth Chevrolet in the top 10 deadliest vehicles is the four-door Chevy Aveo. Studying the crashes of model years 2005 through 2008, the IIHS determined there were 119 driver deaths per million car registrations, split evenly between multiple-vehicle crashes and single-vehicle accidents. The study showed that smaller cars were the most dangerous for drivers, with the exception of poorly designed pickups. SUVs composed the safest class of all.

2. Nissan Titan Crew Cab

2007 Nissan Titan King Cab
Source: Nissan

No matter what type of cab drivers of the Nissan Titan selected, they risked facing one of the highest fatality rates among vehicles bearing the badges from the model years 2005 through 2008. The Nissan Titan crew cab 2WD pickup was involved in 126 driver deaths per million vehicles during the four years of analysis, with 94 per million registrations occurring in single-vehicle crashes.

1. Nissan 350Z

2007 Nissan 350Z
Source: Nissan

Topping the list of deadliest cars on the road is another Nissan: the two-door 350Z from model years 2005 to 2008. IIHS recorded 143 deaths per million registrations for Nissan 350Z drivers during the study period, with 90 deaths per million registrations occurring in single-vehicle crashes.

Chevrolet and Nissan were producing the vehicles involving the highest ratio of driver deaths for a span of four years, with Hyundai and Kia making up the balance. In the course of used car shopping, check the IIHS stats to ensure the safety record of any vehicle.

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