By on August 16, 2019

Image: Subaru

Earlier this month the insurance comparison site Insurify passed around a study of the car models most likely to receiving speeding tickets. The worst offenders were all rather predictable, with Subaru’s WRX leading the charge. Other models, like the Scion FR-S and Volkswagen Golf GTI, helped paint a clearer picture — one that pointed toward younger motorists with a preexisting interest in speed.

While “Quick Cars Go Fast” isn’t the most compelling headline, Insurify released another study this week detailing America’s most accident-prone vehicles. The speeding study was pretty cut and dried, but this one is a bit more mysterious. What goes into an automobile that makes it perfect for crashing? 

Affordability may play a factor. Of the 10 models involved in the most accidents, six come with MSRPs below $25,000. To determine which car models have the most prior accidents, researchers from Insurify yanked information from a database of over 1.6 million car insurance quotes. Drivers input personal and vehicle information, including the model of car they drive, and whether or not they have been in a prior accident during the past seven years. At-fault accidents were then compared against the population of drivers owning that model as a whole.

This resulted in the Subaru Crosstrek taking the dubious honor of being the most-crashed car in America. While the national average showed 13.64 percent of all models on the road having at least one prior accident, the Crosstrek sits at 25.81 percent. But we can’t really fault the car here. With the exception of having earned exceptional crash test results from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there’s nothing about the model that shouts “wreck me.”

The second and third most-crashed cars, Honda’s HR-V and the Hyundai Elantra GT, also possess above-average safety for their segment and low MSRPs. Yet the trend was not universal. Here’s the rest of the field arranged in descending order:

Infiniti Q50
Subaru WRX
Mazda3
Acura ILX
Lexus CT
Chevrolet Trax
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

If you can use your powers of divination to find a common thread, we’d love to hear it. Because, outside of several models being popular among this author’s least driving-focused friends, we’ve no clue where to begin crafting a theory. Not all of the vehicles possess rock-bottom pricing or enviable safety scores and it seems pointless to hunt for meaning by counting how many are Japanese branded autos (it’s seven, by the way). Besides, no single manufacturer made the list more than twice.

[Image: Subaru]

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68 Comments on “Study Examines America’s Most Crashed Car Models...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    Cars don’t have accidents, drivers do. So the real question here is: What cars do accident-prone drivers tend to drive?

    • 0 avatar
      bts

      Accident prone might not be the best term to use, but I’ll take a bite at this.

      All the vehicles listed are either:

      A) Compact SUV with an elevated seating position for someone small and likely unable to drive and make their way through traffic in a regular car (not to mention the cheapest way to get an SUV with off road “ability” and looks and a unsound economic choice since these vehicles are known to be crappy and overpriced).
      B) A relatively inexpensive car with sporty aspirations.
      C) An actual sporty car with actual performance.
      D) A car that someone without any knowledge about cars would think is luxurious and sporty and is also cheap to get into.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Exactly.

      City cars, driving in traffic has much smaller margins for error.

      Cheap cars, young people are poor and stupid and the ones who stay stupid mostly stay poor too.

      Subarus, because nothing says Bolshevik like sticking it to the capitalist insurance company with a $1800 claim for a scuffed bumper, and until someone comes out with an orbital buffer that plugs into their phone they sure aren’t fixing anything themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Not just what, but where. Are these around town fender-benders, or highway/freeway smashups? In what part of the country did they occur? Just add: to what use are the vehicles being put: pizza delivery/travel to unfamiliar areas/at night?

      There are so many variables involved but not mentioned, it’s no wonder there’s no discernable pattern. The proverbial fine-tooth comb is needed, and there’s no guarantee any pattern will emerge. The individual accidents may be so disparate that it would be easier to discern a pattern in a typical kitchen junk drawer.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      But…but…but scary b;ack guns kill people, right ? So it must be the cars killing people with accidents.
      Are these cars black ?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Crosstrek? Hmmm…I have a theory.

    Because approximately 87.5% of these can typically be found going 3 mph below the posted limit in the left lane on the freeway, other drivers cut them off aggressively when they pass, leading to more accidents.

    Wait, I was talking about Foresters…my bad.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Around here people ask “what’s the best car to drive in the winter” The answer is Subaru and Jeeps. You try to tell that tires are probably more important along with going slow, but they usually ignore you. Last winter 2 brand new Subaru’s slid off the road, they both still had their all season tires on them.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      AWD can help out, as well as snow tires!

      But you can’t change the laws of physics!

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        Doesn’t matter. Snow tires, AWD, etc. They drive too fast. Too fast. I think online bearded wizards get a hard on by talking about how snow tires are invincible to ice, snow, fire, and can drive up a mountain range. Hell, I can drive my Honda Accord manual with all seasons in a Minnesota Blizzard just fine.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    As a former (brief) Subaru owner, I would say a factor to consider would be overconfidence.

    Subaru did a masterful job of convincing Joe and Jane America that AWD is needed just to drive on a rainy day. As with SUV drivers, this may lead people to not adjust their driving to conditions. Even digital nannies can’t always correct unsafe driving behaviors.

    I know I lost control of the rear of my AWD Impreza (confession, Saab 9-2x) a couple of times. In snow, it wants to act like a RWD car.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I was thinking the same thing, plus I was wondering whether the popularity of these cars in bad-weather areas (thus prone to more accidents) might be the reason. But if that’s the case, why aren’t the Outback and Forester on the list too? As I understand it, both of those models outsell the Crosstrek. For that matter, why isn’t the entire list made up of 4WD/AWD vehicles?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        My guess would be that the Crosstrek is cheaper and smaller, so is bought by a younger and more urban sort of person.

        Universally, my friends who own Subarus of any type are terrible drivers. To the point that I won’t ride with them.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Interesting theory. The WRX makes sense with wanna-be drifters driving them. The Q50 is RWD and pretty powerful so I can see owners being caught off guard in one.

      The rest of the list makes no sense other then they are such average vehicles the people driving them likely no care about driving at all and thus don’t pay attention.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Good theory.

      An alternate idea is that these drivers text more than others. ?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The CT is so sloth-slow, people probably get rear-ended trying to get it up to highway speeds. It feels considerably slower than a contemporary Prius, to me.

    The others; I’m not sure. I guess you could say that they’re all vehicles that were or are marketed at younger, less experienced drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Had that experience in a Versa rental a month ago!

      Got going OK, but then the CVT rubber-band effect kicked in at around 60mph as I was trying to enter a freeway running at 70+! Followed by a slight loss of forward progress!

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    Your answer is in the research: “How many cars have had prior accidents”, with emphasis on the word “prior”. To get a complete picture, they need to count how many cars have been totaled, removing the possibility of a prior. In my experience, Subarus tend to be more repairable than other makes, because repair costs are comparably low. My Legacy was repaired twice after two major side impacts from red light runners, on the same side. My Altima was totaled after being rear ended. My brother’s Accord was totaled after a minor front impact. My co-worker’s 8 year old Legacy was repaired after a significant rear impact.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I’d hate to see the repair bill on my new Accord if I accidentally love-tapped something, or vice versa!

      Not much resembling a bumper up there, plus parking sensors and the radar unit for the HondaSensing bits! Something a little more than a casual bump, bye-bye intercooler for the turbo! (Anything beyond that is likely to fire airbags, after which it’d be impossible to put the car back together properly!)

      Even a large enough rock, hitting just right and with enough velocity, could probably at least take out the radar and the intercooler!

      • 0 avatar
        ABC-2000

        This is why I put a rubber frame around my front licence plate, the Accord is not the only car with no front protection, I did not need it on my last 2016 Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Good points. I’ve now seen three factors that seem logical:
      1. Cars that are most popular with city folk who live in crowded areas where more accidents happen.
      2. Cars that don’t total for a fender-bender.
      3. Cars that are easily damaged.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Funny, my Ioniq got rear-ended by a Subaru just last month (Outback, I think). It was pretty unavoidable. No sheetmetal damage (except the license plate); all fixed now.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    – Relatively inexperienced drivers (most of those models)
    – Overconfident/overambitious drivers (some of those models)
    – Severely compromised rear/side visibility (most of those models)

    It would be interesting to know the most common types of accidents they were involved in (next level of detail).

  • avatar
    Oreguy

    Where I live, there is quite a large demographic that I wish would stick to riding public transportation, their bikes, or better yet walking.

    Yet, they looooooove their Subarus.

    This statistic is not surprising to me at all.

    • 0 avatar
      jamespdx

      Might I guess Portland????? Subaru sells more cars here than anywhere else in the country – or at least they did. I think the ones plastered with bumper stickers are especially dangerous!!

      • 0 avatar
        Oreguy

        You guessed right.

        When these folks can no longer find, or keep their old Volvo wagons running, they flock to the Subaru dealer.

        I’ve never set foot in one, but I visualize a stop between the F&I office and delivery where it’s mandatory to select a minimum number of bumper stickers to be applied before heading to the nearest Rack Attack store.

        • 0 avatar
          jamespdx

          I especially like the Volvo or Subie wagon plastered with bumper stickers going 10-20 miles an hour under the speed limit, periodically wandering in and out of the next lane with the occasional vape smoke exiting the side window . . . somehow I doubt they are smoking tobacco . . . lol. What I find absolutely AMAZING and UNBELIEVABLE is the same person, armed with a bicycle, running red lights at rush hour! So I’m not sure that sticking with bikes is the answer to the problem they present the rest of us . . .

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        There are a lot of Subarus/Slowbarus on the roads in Portland, Maine too. It’s the brand you buy if you hate cars yet need to get to places like the dog park or the pet store.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    The boring answer is probably urban density. Crosstrek, HR-V, Elantra GT and Mazda3 area all smaller footprint cars that you find in denser traffic areas. Higher density, more predilection for contact.

    So the reason why the Crosstrek wins is because it’s probably the most popular car driven by people who live in urban areas where your chance of getting in a fender bender are high.

    Driver skill (and stereotypes about CUV drivers) probably does play a factor in it, as it would be interesting to compare the Crosstrek with the near identical Impreza (or the HR-V vs the Fit/Civic)

  • avatar

    My observation is that these are cars, SUVs, or whatever with 4 wheels driven by dogs or teenagers. But seriously – why Subarus are so popular among dogs and humans who hate cars? Dog’s I can understand but anti-car activists? What Subarus are not cars and made from flowers and rainbows?

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Interesting point!

      OTOH, occasionally, even the stereotypes are defied! I was following a Forester the other day with a pride flag on it, along with an NRA and a “Trump 2020” bumper sticker!

      The cognitive dissonance is understandably strong there, to be sure!

      To your point: even the anti-car zealots need a way to get around if the public-transportation system is lacking, or until the GoogAmazAllYourLifeAreBelongToBigBrotherNevrXceedSpeedLimit anonymous pods are up and running.

    • 0 avatar

      I live in SF Bay area and I do not own a gun and still do not drive Subaru. Regarding elections it does not matter who you vote for because California is not America I was told when I came there in 2000. It turned out to be one party system just like in Russia or China. Elections are rigged in favor of Democrats as you would suspect. All mass media works in that direction 24×7. I suspect there are more registered Democrats in California than living beings – it is that bad. Voting for non-democrat in California is like trying to vote against Putin in Russia.

      • 0 avatar
        turbo_awd

        With the small exception that voting GOP is like voting FOR Putin, instead of against.. Sorry, your analogy totally falls apart.

        Unlike Russia, if you don’t like the Bay Area, you’re free to move anywhere else in the country where you like it better..

        As far as rigged elections – when people like Devin Nunes get elected, I’d say that’s proof they’re rigged IN FAVOR OF THE GOP.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    They’re all TEXTING and DRIVING still! Can’t break the habit!!! Age doesn’t matter, it’s all about concentration!

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Subaru drivers are the worst on the road bar none.

    Somehow they go way below the posted limit and still manage to be terrible drivers.

    Something about the death grip on the steering wheel or the straight ahead death stare or something.

    And then you have to listen to them go on and on and on about how Subaru’s are the best cars on the planet and they’re on their 7th one and they never break and they can go anywhere.

    So yeah, slow, spaced out drivers combined with excessive arrogance.

    Yeah I stereotype.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Since they all feature sinister looking black plastic trim and non-manual transmissions, they must all be classified as fully automatic or semi-automatic assault vehicles, and should be banned immediately, because nobody needs such vehicles for doing their daily commute. I blame Trump for creating such a climate of vehicular mayhem – must be part of that Russian collusion stuff.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    These are driven more by younger drivers who tend to drive more aggressively? That’s what I would look at.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    My neighbor has one of those Trax things, not a month after buying it they managed to damage the plastic junk underneath the bumper that now just kinda dangles.

    Otherwise, given my experiences Im surprised that more Toyotas or Nissans didnt make the list. Subarus do belong there though thanks to a mix of arrogance, “Volvo syndrome”, and AWD giving drivers too much confidence.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      You mean the plastic skid plate didn’t work? Imagine that

      Full disclosure: I hate plastic skid plates more then fake vents :(

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Around here a lot of newer Chevy sedans drive around with the lower airdam accoutrements dangling in the breeze. They really made all that stuff too low while chasing underbody aero. Throw in our bad roads and a bad-credit BHPH buyer, things get beat up quickly.

  • avatar
    darex

    Just as depicted in Subaru’s own commercial: Parent buys vapid 16 yo kid a Crosstrek, because everyone knows Subarus are 100x safer than any other vehicle; kid looks at phone while entering intersection then acts shocked that she’s in the path of oncoming traffic. Bam!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      A little more dramatic than the one a few years back where a guy visits his totaled-out Legacy one last time at the junkyard, and twists the shift knob off as a souvenir, then the commercial ends as he drives away in an identical replacement vehicle.

      The most dramatic commercial of this type I’ve seen was the Passat commercial where the camera in the back seat is focused on a dude in the passenger seat chatting it up with his buddy driving the car, and you can see a Town Car backing out of a driveway ahead without the driver looking; both occupants react, you see a glimpse of the passenger bag firing, then the scene cuts to a shot of a wrecked Passat as you hear the last sounds of the crash, and the passenger exclaim “holy (bleep)!”

  • avatar
    jtk

    My anecdotal experience with the Trax is that they seem to have super aggressive drivers.

  • avatar
    LDeaton

    Sure, call me a sexist, but can they break stats down by gender?
    Just sayin. May be informative.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    It seems some of these may have limited sales which screws up the analysis quite a bit. For example the Infinity will likely have few sales compared to a Honda CRV so a few accidents could make the percentage rise quite a bit. Cars will large sales can have many more accidents but keep the percentage quite low. The Cross tec is a fairly new model and a sub model on Subs cars so few wrecks can make the numbers high. One would need to look at the numbers for all Subs to compare, not one sub model. Sadistics are a bitch, hated the class but retained my admiration for those who can manipulate numbers.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Over the past few months I have found Subarus to be the most aggravating vehicles on the road, whether it’s below the speed limit in the left lane, wandering, or just generally not mixing in with the traffic flow. I thought it was just me. Now I read these comments and think there must be something going on here.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I’ve always hesitated to mention it in polite company, for fear of being accused of stereotyping, but Subaru drivers are unpredictable and flat dangerous to be near. We don’t get much snow here, but when my wife and I were dating we went to the movies quite frequently and a couple days after a decently large snow went out. Everyone must have felt cooped up because the theatre was busy, and a lot of the spaces had piles of plowed snow on them so the lot was crowded. Saw a Subaru parked halfway up one of the snow mounds. No idea how that SOB got back in the car after the show, but it was there. That was the first time my wife mentioned that Subaru drivers are terrible, and after that I started paying attention and sure enough she was right.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I expected the Altima to be sitting at the top of the list, and it didn’t even place. By far the most dangerous vehicle I see on the road.

    The only reason it didn’t place is because most of those wrecked Altimas will go unrepaired until the CVT implodes and sends the car to the junkyard.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Altimas, Avengers/200s: the cars of people with low-impulse-control everywhere!

      • 0 avatar

        Altima, followed by it’s evil twin the Rogue. Stupidest drivers anywhere.

        The difference with the subaru is that the Subaru is owned by intelligent people who are also stupid drivers. No one is more important than a Subaru driver. I took more than a few calls from folks who bought the weeping gasket models, had been around the dealer a few times, and were now indignant the car still didn’t run/run right.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    LOL! Yep, Subaru’s should be banned, BANNED!, from the roadways. The head gaskets weeping dog-killing anti freeze on the roadways, the CV joints failing and twisting these dangerous vehicles into making a quick donut on the freeways, the drivers loosing attention and rapidly slowing whilst bent over adjusting their Birkenstocks and petting the Chihuahua, and the ear-splitting roar of the failed wheel bearings that scares the women and children all over the landscape. And now we semi-officially know with some amount of certainty that Subaru’s are a major crash culprit, positive evidence that they should be BANNED and the left-lane hogging crash-test dummies driving it forced from the road. LOL! Some folks on here are pretty entertaining (as always) with the Subaru commentary.

  • avatar
    obijuan

    Here’s my take on these vehicles and yes I’m an old fart:
    Crosstrek -too tall mommymobile
    HRV – no power, see Crosstrek
    Elantra GT – boy racer gti wannabe
    Q50 – perhaps more coin than brains
    WRX – drivin by ejits mostly and poorly
    Mazda 3 – generally driving like yobos into gaps in traffic that are too small
    Acura ILX – no idea about what makes a car handle, but nice leather
    Lexus CT – Jesus will help you navigate life’s roads
    Chev Trax – Jesus will not help you with this one
    Hyundai Santa Be Sport? – nothing says sport like one of these things

    There, I do believe that I’ve covered these in an unbiased manner.

  • avatar
    jimble

    Couple of big problems with this “study.” First, it’s just people who have gotten insurance quote comparisons through the Insurify website. I have no idea if that’s any kind of representative sample. I never heard of this site before. Second, their article misrepresents their own data. Users of the Insurify site say what car they currently drive, and whether they’ve been in an accident in the last 7 years. They could have gotten into accidents in cars other than the ones they currently own. My interpretation of this “data” is that some people bought Crosstreks because they were in accidents and then wanted to buy a car they thought would be safer than the one they crashed in. Of course that’s just a wild guess but it’s about as valid as any other conclusions people are trying to draw.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    No Mustang? The car that hates crowds of people? ::shocked::

  • avatar
    DanDotDan

    If I’m reading the study right, it’s a report of what cars the most accident-prone drivers are driving now. It’s not a report about what cars the most accident-prone drivers were driving when they had their accidents. So if I buy a Mustang GT, stuff it into the crowd at C&C, then get scared and buy a Crosstrek, the accident gets charged to the Subi and not the Stang.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Hoping that Subaru will reintroduce a turbo to the Forester line. A few years ago i rented one to navigate the Colorado Front Range and higher. Passed other vehicles with ease going up above 11000 feet. No bumper stickers involved.


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