A new study suggests bigger is better when it comes to car safety.

Online automotive marketplace and research outfit iseecars.com took fatal accident reports from NHTSA covering 2013 to 2017 models and combined them with information from its used car sales database to come up with a ranked list of vehicles with the most occupant fatalities per billion miles driven.


At the top is the Mitsubishi Mirage at 10.8, followed by the Chevrolet Corvette (9.8), Honda Fit (7.7), Kia Forte (7.4) and Chevrolet Spark (7.2), with the average for all vehicles at 2.6. A total of 14 models had fatality rates that were double the average or more, using the iseecars.com methodology, and all of them are either small cars or sports cars.

The subcompact Mirage is one of the most inexpensive vehicles on sale today, with a starting price of $14,945. It was rated Poor on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s driver’s side small overlap crash test in 2014, but that was improved to Marginal in 2017 with engineering updates aimed at addressing the deficiency.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage did better in crash testing. (Mitsubishi)

“The Mitsubishi Mirage, like all Mitsubishi vehicles, meets or exceeds all Federal crash standards.  The vehicle scored a solid four-star rating in the NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program, and a “good” rating on all but one Insurance Institute for Highway Safety test,” a Mitsubishi spokesman said.

“That said, regardless of safety ratings, no two crashes are the same, and the results of every single crash will be different.  It must be remembered that in any vehicle-to-vehicle crash, size matters — smaller vehicles must work harder than larger vehicles to protect their occupants, and the Mirage meets or exceeds all safety standards in doing that.”


Chevrolet has not responded to a request for comment on the report, but iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly wrote in a press release that “sports cars are the vehicle segment with the highest fatal accident rate of 4.6 cars per billion vehicle miles. They’re designed to prioritize speed and acceleration, so it is perhaps no surprise that their accidents result in a high number of fatalities.”

Subcompact cars were right behind at 4.5, with compact (3.8), midsize (3.3) and large (2.6) cars improving in lockstep with size. Pickups were rated at 2.3 overall, while the SUV segment had the lowest average fatality rate at 1.7, with the Kia Sportage (3.8), Jeep Wrangler (3.6) and Lincoln MKT (3.3) ranked worst.