Home Cars Driving Dangers: The Most Unsafe Cars On The Road At Any Speed

Driving Dangers: The Most Unsafe Cars On The Road At Any Speed

Cameron Eittreim February 6, 2023

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Isuzu Trooper

There was a time when Isuzu was the go-to brand for off-road enthusiasts. Isuzu was the company that brought SUVs to the mainstream in a way that even Jeep hadn’t. The Trooper was massively popular, with a select group of drivers who wanted versatility and comfort. The second generation Trooper was even more modern looking and feeling (via Motor Trend).

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The Isuzu Trooper was a boxy SUV that was prone to tipping over. The Consumer Reports article that illustrated how the Trooper was prone to tipping over tarnished the brand’s reputation forever. The Isuzu Motor Company in America never truly recovered from the Trooper debacle and the brand was eliminated from the US market by 2006.

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Acura SLX

The Acura SLX was a lesser-known SUV, but it was one of the most unsafe ones on the road. The SLX shared its body and design with the Isuzu Trooper and there were no safety changes to the design. The SLX was not only prone to rollover accidents but also much more expensive than the standard Trooper (via Fandom).

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The SLX was only sold for a few years, but it was the first SUV with an Acura badge on it. The off-road capability of the SLX cannot be disputed thanks to the Isuzu engineering, but it wasn’t enough to save the nameplate.

Photo Credit: Isuzu

Isuzu Rodeo

The Rodeo was one of the first mass-produced mid-size SUVs on the market. Competing against the likes of the Jeep Cherokee and the Nissan Pathfinder. The Rodeo was popular when it was first released to the public. The problem with the Rodeo was its high ground clearance, which made it susceptible to rollovers (via IIHS).

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The first generation of the Rodeo was the most successful, but the design made it dangerous to drive. The second generation of the Rodeo was not the safest to drive, with the same problems relating to rollover accidents. SUVs have come a long way, but it was the Trooper and the Rodeo that gave them a questionable name early.

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Pontiac Fiero

In the 1980s, the sports car segment was evolving like never before and mid-engined sports cars were some of the most popular options. The Fiero was a popular option at first because it was compact with a mid-engined design. The pint-sized Pontiac was unlike anything else the brand ever sold before (via Hot Cars).

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The problem was that the engineering was not there, and the engine compartment was prone to fires. There were so many fires when the car was first released that it sparked outrage among consumers and the automotive press. By the time GM rectified the problems with the engine compartment fires, it was too late.

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Pontiac Trans Sport

Few cars in history have gotten such a bad crash test rating that they ended up in a museum, but the Trans Sport holds that distinction. The Trans Sport was the second-generation minivan offered by GM in the 1990s. The IIHS crash test was so bad that the van famously overlapped on itself (via Cars.com).

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The Trans Sport had a lot of potential to compete with the popular Chrysler minivans, but the poor crash test rating resonated throughout the automotive industry. Consumers were not too pleased with a van that scored this low. The Trans Sport was one of the most unsafe vehicles on the road in the 1990s.

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Volkswagen Vanagon

The Vanagon, sold from 1979-1991, was one of the worst-scoring German cars ever in a crash test. The van had a flat-fronted design, which obviously meant the driver wasn’t protected. But the awkward stance of the van also made it almost impossible for the driver to control when the vehicle lost control (via Cars.com).

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The Vanagon was always sold to a niche audience, like most Volkswagen cars back then, but the negative crash test didn’t help the reputation. The crash test was infamously so bad that the occupants were unbuckled and ejected from the vehicle during the crash. Needless to say, the Vanagon is a van that provides a lot of risks and little reward.

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Dodge Stratus

The lowly Stratus was sold for over a decade and you used to see them everywhere. But it was also one of the worst-scoring cars in terms of safety ratings during the 2000s. This model didn’t have any side impact protection and the dated design didn’t help things out. The Stratus was competing against the likes of the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla (via Cars.com).

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Although Chrysler boasted about a strong front-impact crash test rating, the side-impact crash tests were lackluster at best. The Stratus was eventually discontinued and replaced with the Avenger, which itself was discontinued shortly thereafter. The Stratus just shows that domestic automakers weren’t too worried about safety ratings back then.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Suzuki Samurai

The rollover fiasco of the 1990s wasn’t just focused on the Isuzu Trooper. Other small SUV models were also wrapped up in the debate, and the Samurai was at the forefront. Although the basic design of the Samurai dates back to the early 1980s, it wasn’t fair to compare the SUV to more modern models, such as the RAV4 (via Motor Trend).

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The Samurai had a very short wheelbase and it was high off the ground, which meant it tipped over fairly easily. There were other SUV models with a similar design, but the Samurai was so archaic that there were no safety features. The Samurai was finally discontinued in the late 1990s after being wrapped up in the rollover debates.

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Mitsubishi Mirage

Where do we start with the lowly Mirage? It’s the cheapest car on the new car market for a reason. Safety is about nonexistent when it comes to this car, but on the positive side, you get a brand-new ride for a fraction of the price of a normal new car. But the Mirage is the most basic car you’ll ever get in the modern era (via Edmunds).

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From the cheap interior plastics to the lack of modern radio, you might mistake yourself for being back in 2004 again. The Mirage has gone without a significant redesign for quite a few years, and the lack of safety features only adds to that mystique. There are much safer cars on the road for drivers to choose from than this.

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Dodge Ram Van

Another unsafe vehicle marred in controversy was the Ram Van. The Ram Van had the same basic design for decades, and while businesses loved the sturdiness of the van, safety was not the first priority. These things were prone to tipping over when they had to make a fast maneuver, and the lack of a modern ABS system only worsened things (via KBB).

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What was even more amazing was the fact that the Ram Van stayed in production until the 2003 model year. There was a time when big passenger vans were a normal sight in everyday America. Nowadays, these behemoths have been replaced with vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect and the Chevy Express.

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Suzuki X-90

The Suzuki X-90 got it worse than almost every other compact SUV in the 1990s. Because the design didn’t make sense, and the lack of safety features was still there. The tall ground clearance meant this short thing tipped over easily. The two-seat design and lack of a passenger airbag only worsened things (via Motor Biscuit).

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The X-90 had a bad reputation for safety, and the sales numbers for the thing were very low. It turned out that no one wanted the weird-looking little UTE after all. Unfortunately, the basic design of the X-90 was shared with the stellar Samurai in terms of off-road capability. But the X-90 was unsafe and never sold well.

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