Is Your Ride in the Zero Club?


While a title like the "Zero Club" may sound like something you want no part of, we here at E3 Spark Plugs assures you - this one is actually a club you'll hope you're in.

Despite the record number of vehicle safety recalls nationwide last year, courtesy of General Motors faulty ignition systems and Takata's airbag fiasco, a new report shows that America's roadways boast more models than ever with proven safety track records. And we're not just talking luxury cars with high-tech safety gadgets -a good number of affordable rides also made the list.

Researchers focused driver fatality rates in crashes between 2009 and 2012. They focused primarily for 2011 model-year vehicles, as they're the newest cars that have been on the road long enough to accumulate Federal Analysis Reporting System crash data, but also looked at model years dating back to 2008 in vehicles that haven't undergone substantial redesign since.

Results turned up nine models that had zero driver fatality rates. That's a major improvement considering that just six years ago, no car on the US market could boast such a distinction.

"We know from our vehicle ratings program that crash test performance has been getting steadily better," said David Zuby, head of research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "These latest death rates provide new confirmation that real-world outcomes are improving, too."

The nine Zero Club members are:

  • Audi A4 4WD luxury midsized car
  • Honda Odyssey minivan
  • Kia Sorrento 2WD midsized SUV
  • Lexus RX 350 4WD midsized luxury SUV
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 4WD large luxury SUV
  • Subaru Legacy 4WD midsized car
  • Toyota Highlander hybrid 4WD midsized SUV
  • Toyota Sequoia 4WD large SUV
  • Volvo XC90 4WD midsized luxury SUV

SUVs make frequent appearances on the list thanks to growing use of electronic stability control, a semi-autonomous driving technology that helps keep a vehicle moving in the intended direction during extreme steering, such as when a driver overestimates speed when the road curves. This technology was designed specifically to address one of the most persistent problems with SUVs - rollover risk associate with a high center of gravity.

Now for the bad news - The nine models with the highest driver-fatality rates are:

  • Kia Rio 4-door, 149 deaths
  • Nissan Versa 4-door, 130 deaths
  • Hyundai Accent 4-door, 120 deaths
  • Chevrolet Aveo 4-door, 99 deaths
  • Hyundai Accent 2-door, 86 deaths
  • Chevrolet Camaro sports coupe, 80 deaths
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab 4WD pickup truck, 79 deaths
  • Honda Civic 2-door, 76 deaths
  • Nissan Versa 4-door hatchback, 71 deaths

Check out the full report to see where your ride falls in the mix.

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