The Mercedes E-Class sedan is the safest car on the highway, while the least safe is the two-door Chevrolet Blazer, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The institute reached its conclusions about the Mercedes, Blazer and 197 other relatively popular vehicles by studying driver death rates of 1999 to 2002 model cars and trucks from 2000 to 2003.

Among four-door midsize cars, the Volkswagen Passat performed best, with an average of 16 driver deaths per million registered vehicles annually, but the Chrysler Sebring had 126 driver deaths.

Among midsize sport utility vehicles with four-wheel drive, the Toyota 4Runner had 12 deaths per million registered vehicles annually, compared with 134 for the two-door Ford Explorer.

The study focused on the rate of driver deaths in various types of crashes, including both single- and multiple-vehicle accidents.

The overall driver death rate, for 199 models studied during the 2000-2003 calendar years, was 87 per million registered vehicles annually, the institute said. The Blazer had an average of 308 driver deaths per million. It also had the highest rate of driver deaths in rollover accidents at 251 per million.

"Large cars and minivans dominate among vehicle models with very low death rates" while those with the highest fatality rates are "mostly small cars and small and midsize SUVs," the study said

The Results

Lowest Rates of Driver Death
Fewer than 30 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years (1999-2002 models during calendar years 2000-03)

Model

Death Rate

Mercedes E class

10

Toyota 4Runner 4WD

12

VW Passat

16

Lexus RX 300 4WD

17

Toyota RAV4 4WD

18

Honda Odyssey

19

Mercury Villager

21

Mercedes S class

25

Nissan Pathfinder 4WD

25

Cadillac DeVille

26

Nissan Quest

26

Toyota Camry Solara

27

Cadillac Eldorado

29

Highest Rates of Driver Death
More than 160 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years (1999-2002 models during calendar years 2000-03)

Model

Death Rate

Chevrolet Blazer 2dr 2WD

308

Mitsubishi Mirage

209

Pontiac Firebird

205

Kia Rio

200

Kia Sportage 4dr 2WD

197

Chevrolet Blazer 4dr 2WD

190

Ford Explorer 2dr 2WD

187

Chevrolet Camaro

186

Mazda B series 2WD

185

Chevrolet Tracker 4WD

183

Chevrolet S10 2WD

182

Chevrolet Cavalier 2dr

168

Chevrolet Cavalier 4dr

162

Kia Sportage 4dr 4WD

162