The majority of luxury cars are failing a new, tougher crash tests that focused on them. The results are raising concerns that most vehicles may not be able to protect passengers from serious injuries in common accidents.
BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus all earned a “poor” rating when a test simulated what happens when a sedan’s front corner hits another vehicle or object (like a tree or pole), according to The Chicago Tribune.
Only three of 11 luxury cars built during the 2012 model year passed the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new crash test, which studied front-corner impacts, which are not protected well by the vehicles’ crush-zone structures.
David Champion, who directs Consumer Reports’ auto testing program, believes that, if luxury cars are failing at a higher rate with the new testing, then most cars will probably not do well either. Champion explained:
“This is something that has not been on the top of most manufacturers’ lists of things they have to do. It will take five to 10 years before every manufacturer works out how to do well in this test.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that Adrian Lund, the president of IIHS, stated:
“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.”
Lund attributed that the new tests involving small-overlap crashes are accounting for almost one-fourth of the frontal crashes that result in serious or fatal injury to passengers in the front seat. The new testing is focusing more intensely on the vehicle’s structure, or what is called the “safety cage” that is supposed to hold its shape in a crash and prevent intrusion the IIHS notes that some of the cars they tested bent and bucked in alarming ways in the new test. Lund added:
“It’s Packaging 101. If you ship a fragile item in a strong box, it’s more likely to arrive at its destination without breaking. In crashes, people are less vulnerable to injury if the occupant compartment remains intact.”
Small-overlap accidents, unlike moderate-overlap collisions, affect a car’s outer edges mostly, which are not currently protected by crush-zones. The result of the crash often pushes the front wheel into the foot well, causing foot and leg injuries.
Are you surprised that luxury cars did not hold up in the IIHS’s new crash tests?