There you are, rolling along in your nice luxury car with custom leather interior, awesome speakers and one of those voice-activated virtual assistants offering to find you a late-night taco joint and all is well with the world. Unless maybe, you get in an accident and discover that just because your car is fancy, it might not hold up so well in a crash. A new test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has resulted in some failing grades for luxury and near-luxury automakers.
The crash tests administered to 11 models were designed to mirror the experience of a head-on collision with an object with only a small part of the front bumper actually hitting. Of those, eight totally bombed the test, reports CNNMoney. This is somewhat surprising, as new cars have been garnering increasingly good ratings as automakers try to improve safety.
The key here? IIHS created a new test that is even tougher than its tests in the past, involving something called the “small overlap” impact. Cars in the test travel at 40 miles per hour and hit a barrier with 25% of the driver’s side bumper. That focuses the impact in such a small area that the car will then spin. Other frontal tests have around 40% of the bumper take on the force of the impact.
With that tiny area of impact, it isn’t so easy for the vehicle’s structure to spread out impact forces around the driver, and the spinning makes it difficult for the airbags to protect passengers from slamming into the interior of the car.
“Nearly every new car performs well in other frontal crash tests conducted by the Institute and the federal government, but we still see more than 10,000 deaths in frontal crashes each year,” Institute president Adrian Lund said. About 25% of all serious and fatal injuries each year are caused by these small overlap impacts, says the IIHS.
Only two cars earned the top rating of “good” in this go around, Honda’s Acura TL and the Volvo S60. Down at the bottom of the heap with the worst rating of “poor” in the new test were the Mercedes-Benz C-class,the Lexus IS and ES and the Audi A4.
Some in the auto industry seems willing to work with the results of this new test, with automakers like Toyota, which makes Lexus vehicles, pledging to belly up to the bar and improve safety.
But Mercedes-Benz isn’t having any of it, and says it doesn’t agree with the IIHS’ test.
“As a leader in automotive safety, we have full confidence in the protection that the C-Class affords its occupants — and less confidence in any test that doesn’t reflect that,” the German automaker said in a statement.
Luxury cars flunk new tougher crash test [CNNMoney]