Not all vehicles are made with the same quality. Some automakers have a reputation for producing safe cars, while others pay more attention to performance. Every now and then, a questionable car model hits the market with safety risks often unknown to the consumer. We’re looking at you, Pinto.
These cars can turn road trips into real-life horror movies. If that’s not a risk you’re willing to take, then you need to read this list. We’ve identified the most dangerous cars ever made, and while you might not have one in your driveway, you might not want to ride shotgun if your friend has one.
Pontiac Fieros Were Lit. Literally.
Like some other cars on this list, Pontiac Fiero had quite the explosive problem. The car was designed using an older engine that needed to be modified to fit under the hood. Engineers, however, forgot to redesign the dipstick, causing oil levels to be read inaccurately. This, in turn, led to constant engine fires.
In 1987, it was reported that 20 Fieros a month were getting lit up. Luckily for Pontiac, no one was killed. The next year, the brand ended production on the car as sales slumped.
The Audi 5000 Was A Game Of Inches
The fatal flaw of the Audi 5000 is one that has become fairly blown out of proportion. When Audi designed the car, they put the brake and acceleration pedals awfully close together. As a result, drivers would frequently step on the wrong pedal.
The problem was highlighted by 60 Minutes, when they rigged an Audi 5000 to over-accelerate on camera. Producers were unable to replicate the flaw in their own tests, and decided to fake it instead. Regardless, the car was involved in several accidents, earning its place on this list.
Ralph Nader Ruined The Chevy Corvair
In his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed, Ralph Nader described the Chevy Corvair as being a "one-car accident." With those words, he turned the car into the poster-child for all dangerous cars. But was it really that bad?
The version of the Corvair that Nader wrote about had an oddly-designed suspension that caused the car to fishtail if turned too quickly. Because of this, the Corvair also had a tendency to roll over. By the time the book was released, however, Chevy had fixed the problem, something Nader failed to mention.
The Smart Car Needed To Go Back To School
In 2009, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put the Smart Car against the Mercedes Benz C-Class to see which one would come out on top. Spoiler alert; it was not the Smart Car.
After the test, the Wallstreet Journal quoted the president of the IIHS, saying "I think everyone knows you don’t send a flyweight into the ring against a heavyweight." The report didn’t stop the tiny car from gaining massive popularity. With a fuel efficiency of 40 miles per gallon and an easy-to-swallow price tag of $12,000, they flew off showroom floors.
Scary Porsche’s Were Preferred By Consumers
The 1960’s Porsche 911 had a huge problem with oversteering. Like the Corvair, the car’s suspension was designed improperly. Unlike the Corvair, consumers of Porsche enjoyed the thrill of driving on the edge of danger. They liked it so much that when Porsche weighted down the back of the car to fix it, complaints came rolling in.
Car and Driver wrote, "Sure, understeer is safe, but oversteer makes driving fun … if you’re expert enough to handle it." Under pressure, the automaker relented, removing their added safety features from the car. Instead, they added a warning to the brochure.
Ford Knew The Bronco II Would Roll
With consumers more conscious about gas prices in the 1980s, Ford released the Bronco II. The redesigned SUV offered great MPG in its class; there was just one problem: The car was so light that it rolled over. A lot.
Even scarier, the car didn’t need to be going too fast for this accident to happen. Ford reportedly knew about this problem in 1981 and canceled vehicle safety tests to keep their safety drivers from getting hurt. Between 1983 and 2001, an estimated 260 people died in Bronco II rollover accidents.
The Yugo GV Was Cheap For A Reason
The Yugo Good Value (GV) had a sticker price of $4,000 when it came out in the 1980s. This, more than anything, made it an instant hit. Unfortunately, anyone who was fooled into buying one regretted it instantly.
The car was cheap because it wasn’t built to be safe. It was light as a feather and could be blown off the freeway with a small gust of wind (according to LA Magazine). Initial reviews weren’t glowing either, "somehow, the Yugo’s creators blessed it with both a harsh, jarring ride and poor steering and handling."
The Model T Was The First Warning Sign
When the Ford Model T came out, it was revolutionary. Thanks to Henry Ford, consumers could stop walking to where they needed to go. There was only one problem; there were no rules for driving. The simple fact the anyone of any age could get behind the wheel isn’t what makes this car really scary, though.
The Model T wasn’t designed with safety in mind. The windows were made of flat glass that was easily breakable and the gas tank was hidden under the seat. In 1917, there were over 7,000 reported car accidents.
Don’t Believe The Safety Ratings For The Yaris
In 2012, the Toyota Yaris was named a top safety pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That same year, the Los Angeles Times wrote that drivers of Yaris cars had a higher risk of injury during a crash.
The numbers backed up the Southern California newspaper. Twenty-eight and a half injury claims were filed by Yaris drivers from 2009 until 2011. The Highway Loss Institute’s senior vice president put it like this, "Injury claims data show something that crash test results can’t, and that’s the role that vehicle size plays."
The Ram 1500 Couldn’t Stay Grounded
From 2011 until 2015, the Dodge Ram 1500 accounted for lost lives of 55 people per one million vehicle registrations. During those tragic years, most of the fatal accidents were single vehicle ones as the truck had a tendency to roll over.
The Ram 1500 wasn’t the only dangerous truck on the road in those years, however. Short-bed pickup trucks were the most troublesome cars on the road at the time and were involved in the most driver deaths. Thankfully, these cars have gotten much safer since then.
The Ford Pinto Was Explosive
The Ford Pinto is one of the most infamous cars ever made. It was built cheap, and when it was released, it turned out to have an explosive problem. A low-speed collision to the car would damage the gas tank, causing some of these models to explode.
The really scary thing is the fact that Ford knew this was going to happen, even knew how to fix the problem, but didn’t. An $11 repair would seem simple enough, but Ford crunched the numbers, determining that it would be cheaper to settle "death and dismemberment" lawsuits rather than make the car safe.
There’s Not Enough Leg Room In The Hyundai Accent
The Hyundai Accent is another reason to avoid small cars whenever possible. The cute sedan looks great on the outside, but on the inside, it’s one of the most cramped cars on the market. The lack of legroom is especially dangerous for the driver.
The IIHS called the 2012-14 Accents "seriously compromised" when it came to how much room drivers had. They further concluded there was a high chance for "injuries to the left hip, left knee, and left lower leg."
The Kia Rio Is The New Model T
The Kia Rio is a car that shouldn’t be on the road. In 2015, the IIHS listed the Rio as the deadliest car on the road. For every million vehicle registrations, 149 drivers lost their lives!
Two years later, the numbers were considerably better. Today, you can buy a new Kia Rio for around $15,000, which makes it a decent car for the price. As the company continues to improve its safety features, it might even be an absolute steal!
The Scion tC Was One Of A Kind
The Scion tC is a surprising entry on this list. When consumers bought the car, it was graded by the IIHS as one of the safest on the road. As you know by now, crash tests and real-world driving are two different things, though.
Despite its size, the car had a knack for rolling over. About half of all driver lives lost came from roll overs. For a car in its class, this was and still is considered a major anomaly.
The Chevy Spark Had Bad Airbags
Getting into any mini car is a dangerous proposition. The worst of them all might have been the 2013 Chevy Spark. It was the first model year for the car, and it wasn’t a promising one. The biggest issue with the car was its insufficient airbag situation.
In a 2013 study from the IIHS is was determined that 70 percent of lives lost were from multi-vehicle accidents involving this car model. The company claimed that the car’s airbags failed to give, "sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with forward side structure and outside objects."
The Nissan Versa Couldn’t Handle The Heat
Like the Spark, the Nissan Versa had a major airbag problem. According to the IIHS, the Versa’s issues came with the safety features deployment, "leaving the head vulnerable to contact with [the] forward structure."
The years studied by the IIHS were 2011 through 2014, and results showed that over half of airbag accidents involved multiple vehicles. Studies from prior years show even higher numbers. Nissan has taken steps to address the problem, although consumer confidence has been slow to recover.
No Head Was Safe In The Ford Fiesta
Don’t be fooled by all the safety awards the Ford Fiesta has won. Before the automaker discontinued the car, it was revealed that crash test results ran contrary to what consumers were led to believe.
The IIHS reported that, "Measures from the dummy indicate that injuries to the head and left lower leg would be possible in a crash of this severity." The company rated the car as "marginal," noting it was dangerous for drivers when involved in multi-vehicle accidents.
The Kia Soul Has Gotten Safer With Time
Since 2014, the Kia Soul has received high marks in safety. Before then, the car was rated as the deadliest "small wagon" on the road. Early models were given "poor" ratings in front overlap crash tests.
The biggest issue was, "the driver’s space was seriously compromised by intruding structure." There were 82 driver fatalities for every million registrations, proving this was a vehicle to avoid at all costs. It’s a good think Kia fixed the problems and improved the Soul and making it one of the most desirable cars to own.
The Hyundai Pony Was Cheaply Made
The Hyundai Pony was extremely popular when it originally came out in the ’80s. In Canada the car was a consumer favorite, selling 50,000 units in its first two years. One of the biggest selling points for the Pony was its price tag, which should have been seen as a warning sign.
The Pony was easy on consumer wallets because Hyundai made it from cheap parts. This made the vehicle a cash cow for the company, and one of the rare instances they ever placed money over safety.
The Chevy Colorado Is Out Of Control
The Chevy Colorado might be the most dangerous consumer truck ever released on this list. For every million registrations, the Colorado is responsible for 93 fatalities. Even worse, most of these are from single car accidents.
The theory behind why the Colorado is such a difficult vehicle to own is simple; it’s hard to handle. However Chevrolet decided to design it, they didn’t account for potential performance flaws based on the weight of the extended cab, two-wheel drive pick up truck.
It Doesn’t Matter If You Hit A Pole Or A Car In A Buick Lacrosse
A decade or so back, the Buick Lacrosse seemed like the perfect car for anyone who just needed to get from point A to B. They’re a relatively basic and affordable car, so a lot of people were very interested when they first came out.
While it looks safe, that’s not entirely the case. A study shows that 76 people met their deaths (out of one million registrations) while behind the wheel of this vehicle. On top of that, the fatal accidents were almost split evenly between single-vehicle and multi-car crashes.
Don’t Get Hit In A Honda Civic
It’s no surprise that the Honda Civic is the best-selling model that Honda offers. They aren’t incredibly flashy, they get the job done, but have enough on the interior and exterior to still look nice. Unfortunately, it has the worst driver death statistic in its category with 76 deaths for every one million registrations.
Multi-vehicle crashes almost doubled single-car accidents with 46 deaths compared to 29. Fortunately, since changing up its design in 2013, it has achieved numerous Top Safety Pick Awards from the IIHS.
Hold Onto Your Head In A Buick Lucerne
When comparing how dangerous different vehicles are, the Buick Lucerne is definitely up there. When compared to the Buick Lacrosse, it has an even higher death toll, with 77 out of one million registrations between the years 2006 and 2009.
Apparently, you’re better off getting into a single-car accident because drivers tend to have less luck when another car is involved. To be specific, some of the weak points of the vehicle that were demonstrated during crash tests were the seat safety and head restraints.
Just Because The Nissan Frontier Is A truck Doesn’t Make It Safe
Some people assume that driving a truck makes you one of the safest people on the road. While that’s true in many cases, some trucks recently have been lacking in that department. One of those specifically is the Nissan Frontier.
The 2005 to 2008 Frontier design had some major issues that put its driver and passengers at risk. During those years, 77 per one million registrations lost their lives in this vehicle. So, it’s no surprise that this truck has had numerous safety complaints.
Chevrolet Silverado May Look Like A Big Boy But It Isn’t Very Safe
While the older models of the Chevrolet Silverado may have acted as the poster boy for America farm life and hard work, drive a newer one at your own risk. Even though they are massive vehicles, the four-wheel-drive Silverado 1500 Crew Cab has resulted in the deaths of 79 people out of one million registrations.
The deaths were pretty split between single or mlti-car crash, but what’s for sure is that the 2009 Silverado did the worst of all.
Only Get The New Model Of The Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra did a complete 180 when it comes to crash test ratings. The IIHS admits that the 2005 to 2008 models might have been some of the least safe cars on the road. During that time, 80 people lost their lives out of one million driving behind the wheel of this car.
Luckily for Hyundai, they changed things around and by 2015, the car was no longer considered to be incredibly dangerous. While the newer models are fine, steer clear from past releases.
You May Pay The Price In A Camero
It’s no real surprise that the Chevrolet Camero made it onto the list. They’re fast and small, what else do you need to get into a fatal accident? It has a record of 80 deaths out of one million registrations with the IIHS indicating that three-quarters of those deaths stemmed from single-car accidents.
These statistics show that the drivers of these cars aren’t as careful as others on the road. but still, if you’re going fast you might want more safety.
Maybe Upgrade From A Ford Ranger
After taking some time off producing Ford Rangers, it looks as though Ford has decided that they want the car to make a comeback in the near future. Luckily, the lasted model won’t be nearly as much as a death trap as the 2005 to 2008 models.
Unsurprisingly, a whopping 81 drivers out of one million registrations met their maker in a Ranger. However, this is most likely because the truck is so small and compact. Maybe upgrade to the F150.
Go With A Newer Model With The Nissan Maxima
For the most part, the Nissan Maxima is usually considered a pretty safe car. We would hope so if we’re seeing so many of the out on the road. They did well until the last decade when they seemed to only be offering minimal driver protection crashes.
Between the years 2006 ad 2009, 81 people unfortunately lost their lives out of a million registrations. However, Nissan stepped up their game and by going off the 2016 model, the new Maximas are some of the safest around.
Stay Away From A Pre-2009 Mitsubishi Galant
After some horrendous crash test ratings, by 2012, the Mitsubishi Galant was relatively hard to find, because nobody wanted to even get inside of one. leading up to 2009, 82 out of a million people who drove a Galant met their fate.
The studies also showed that two-thirds of those deaths were single-vehicle crashes, showing that it’s not other cars that are making this vehicle dangerous. In essence, you might want to steer clear of any Mitsubishi Galants.
Nissan 350Z Was Dangerous For A Few Years
While this sporty Nissan looks like a lot of fun, it became a major safety risk to drivers from 2006 through 2009. That’s when the Nissan 350Z received the unwanted top rankings for driver deaths.
According to IIHS reports, there were 143 deaths involved with this car, and 90 of them were single-vehicle wrecks, which certainly tells you something. One of the biggest problems this car had was rollover incidents. Safety wasn’t a priority with the design of this sports car.
Another Nissan Makes The List: The Titan
Just because you see a lot of one type of vehicle on the road doesn’t mean that it’s a safe choice. The Nissan Titan was a dangerous truck from 2006 through 2009. (Is there a pattern here?) The side airbags on this truck proved to be ineffective.
During that period of time, 126 drivers for every one million were killed in this truck. 94 of those were single-vehicle accidents. Rollover deaths in the Titan reached 81, the highest-ranked during those four years of any vehicle.
The Chevrolet Aveo Was a No-No
After the IIHS conducted studies on the Chevrolet Aveo, they found it to be one of the most dangerous cars on the road. This vehicle was a GM creation from pre-recession that became a total hazard for drivers.
In 2011, for every one million people driving the Aveo, 119 drivers were killed. Things didn’t get much better in 2015, when they found that for every million people behind the wheel, 99 were killed. In this case, multiple-car wrecks were the most fatal.
The Chevrolet Cobalt Is a Deadly Rental Car
You typically see a lot of Chevrolet Cobalt cars when you visit a rental car shop, right? Well, maybe you should request another model… The Cobalt had a death rate of 117 driver deaths for every one million behind the wheel from 2005 through 2008.
While this vehicle might be attractive for its low gas mileage and four-door sedan design, don’t mistake it for a car that’s safe for your family.
The Kia Spectra Makes the List
The Kia Spectra was involved in 102 driver deaths for every one million on the road from 2005 until 2008. The majority of these were multiple-vehicle crashes and the IIHS flagged this car as one of the most dangerous during that four-year period.
Again, this car looks sporty and it’s affordable, but you shouldn’t sacrifice safety for either of those. It’s better to find something with higher safety ratings so you’ll feel secure having your family and loved ones with you on the road.
Steer Away From The Chevrolet Malibu Classic
The poor crash test ratings for the Chevrolet Malibu Classic were the first sign of trouble for this car. The sedan doesn’t have much character but at the same time, could be appealing to customers for its simplicity and affordability. The models from 2005 through 2008 proved not to be the safest vehicle to have in your driveway, or on the road for that matter.
For every one million Malibus registered, 99 resulted in fatalities. Out of those, 67 were accidents involving multiple cars. This is another vehicle you’ll frequently find in the rental lot.
A Large Number Of Single-Vehicle Wrecks: The Hyundai Tiburon
Pay attention to this one, because the Hyundai Tiburon is near the top of the list for highest death rates of drivers. For every million Tiburons on the road, 96 drivers were involved in fatal accidents.
The 2005 through 2008 model of this car also has a higher percentage of single-vehicle wrecks compared to most, with 63 drivers out of every one million having only the driver of a Tiburon involved.
Mazda MX-5 Miata… It’s So Small
Do you feel like after reading through this list, you’re getting a better idea of what to look for in terms of characteristics of the more dangerous cars on the road? Take a look at the Mazda MX-5 Miata. What do you think?
IIHS studies show that per one million MX-5 Miatas on the road, 83 resulted in fatal accidents. If you’re thinking it would be harder for other drivers to see this little car, you’d be correct. A reported 75% of the fatal accidents for the MX-5 are multi-vehicle crashes.
The Subaru Legacy Wasn’t Always So Safe
Subarus have a reputation for being a safe and reliable vehicle. Most of the time, that’s true. But the older models of the Legacy have some unique (and undesirable) characteristics from its newer models.
The 2005 Legacy showed poor crash test ratings with the safety features not offering the driver enough protection in the event of an accident. Out of a million Subaru Legacy drivers from 2005 through 2009, 83 were involved in fatal accidents.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Could Offer Better Protection
As of 2012, the Mitsubishi Eclipse is no longer in production, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t still see some of these on the road. For the Eclipse, two-thirds of accidents that resulted in a fatality were single-vehicle accidents.
This model offers drivers minimal protection around the head area, proving to be very dangerous if the car rolls over. While the car was popular for its body and sporty style, the safety risk isn’t worth the drive.