Five of the safest used cars under $10k

Moving Well | Nicholas Muscat | Posted on 21 October 2019

Looking to buy a used car? We have five of the safest that won’t break the budget.

You don’t need a big budget to buy a safe car. That’s the message from RACV’s manager of vehicle engineering Michael Case following the release of the latest used car safety ratings. While Michael says people should always buy the safest car they can afford, he recognises that not everyone has the budget to splash out on a shiny new model with all the latest safety features. The good news is it’s possible to buy a second-hand car for less than $10,000 without jeopardising your safety or that of your family and friends.   

Each year the Vehicle Safety Research Group in conjunction with Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) rates the safety of hundreds of older models based on their real-world performance in crashes. By analysing more than eight million police accident reports and related injuries from serious crashes in Australia and New Zealand, the experts award each model a safety rating from one to five stars. The more stars, the safer the car.

Cars for sale in a car yard

You don’t need a big budget to buy a safe car.


Here are five cars with a five-star used car safety rating, a decent service history and less than 150,000 kilometres on the clock that can be found online for less than $10,000. 

2010-2013 Honda City  

The fifth-generation Honda City offers drivers class-leading safety, reliability and low running costs. The City gets a five-star rating in the latest round of used car safety ratings, with six airbags and a host of electronic aids, including traction and stability control (standard on models after November 2010). Its 1.5-litre petrol engine, which is paired with either a five-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission, provides enough power for driving around town. The auto’s appeal is driving ease, while the manual version can feel a little sprightlier and gets better fuel economy, even if it does require frequent gear changing to get the best out of the high-revving engine.   

2007-2015 Ford Mondeo Zetec 

The 2009 Ford Mondeo Zetec is a practical mid-size vehicle, available in hatch or wagon form, that makes a great first car. The 2009 TDCi (diesel) or top-of-the-range Zetec models can be found online for less than $10,000. The Mondeo has myriad safety features including seven airbags and traction and stability control, along with parking sensors, alloy wheels,  climate control and Bluetooth connectivity. And the big boot and quiet cabin make it great for weekend getaways. The 2.3-litre petrol engine does a respectable job, but the 2.0-litre turbo diesel delivers stronger performance and better fuel consumption.  

Honda City

The fifth-generation Honda City offers drivers class-leading safety.


Ford Mondeo

The Ford Mondeo is a practical mid-size vehicle.


2011-15 Kia Sportage 

One of Australia’s top-selling mid-sized SUVs, the Sportage’s competitive price, safety features, reliability and quality cabin make it a popular buy on both the new and used car markets. With standard features including six airbags, 17-inch alloys and a big 491-litre boot, it’s an ideal choice for small families who enjoy an adventure outside of the school run. The styling has aged well and buyers report good long-term reliability.  

2011-2015 Ford Ranger  

A safe and rugged commercial vehicle, the Ford Ranger comes in a wide variety of configurations from the basic single-cab chassis 2WD workhorse to the well-equipped dual-cab 4WD models. There is a choice of three engines – the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel and the acclaimed 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel. While all have a five-star used car safety rating, look for the higher-grade variants which have six airbags and a host of impressive electronic aids including trailer-sway control, load-adaptive control and hill-launch assist. The Ranger provides a quality ride, quiet cabin and comfortable driving position. It’s a great choice for tradies and families after a good all-rounder for day-to-day runs around town, longer road trips or four-wheel-drive adventures. 

Ford Ranger

The Ranger is a great choice for tradies and families.


Honda Odyssey

The Odyssey has been one of the most popular people movers for more than a decade.


2004-2009 Honda Odyssey

The Odyssey has been one of the most popular people movers for more than a decade, giving Australian families space, fuel efficiency and durability. A good alternative to large SUVs, the Odyssey offers better safety than most cars of a similar age and price point. Six airbags protect even third-row occupants in the event of a side impact. The 2.4-litre engine may not be the most powerful but it provides adequate power around town and relaxed highway cruising. Owners also report excellent reliability.