New V8 performance cars falter during top American IIHS crash testing
While the new Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger aren't safety disasters, all three cars have failed to achieve the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) top seal of approval, following recent testing.
The American test is a point of curiosity, given that neither ANCAP nor European NCAP have tested the three performance platforms. And with Ford's new Mustang has arrived on our shores, there's potential for all three to be regular fixtures on New Zealand's highways and B roads in the future.
The IIHS testing doesn't spit out your typical star rating. Instead each car gets a grade across six different categories; small overlap front performance, moderate overlap front performance, side impact performance, roof strength, head restraints and seat performance, and child seat anchor performance — each rated either Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor.
The IIHS will back cars that score highly across those categories with a Top Safety Pick recommendation — the best of the best receiving a Top Safety Pick+ recommendation. The Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger all failed to earn these accolades.
The Mustang and the Camaro were the closest to acheivement. The Mustang fell short during the small overlap segment, where it only rated 'acceptable'. While the Camaro on the other hand aced the small overlap test, it could only manage 'acceptable' ratings in roof strength. The child-seat anchors of both cars were also underwhelming; both only managing to score a 'marginal' rating.
Lagging behind was the Challenger, scoring just a 'marginal' rating in the small overlap performance test, as well as 'acceptable' ratings across roof strength, head restraints, and seats. The Challenger also claimed the dubious title of being one of the only cars the IIHS have tested that trapped the feet of the driver test dummy during testing.
"During the crash, the Challenger's front wheel was forced rearward into the occupant compartment, and the footwell intrusion trapped the dummy's left foot and deformed its ankle," said IIHS President Adrian Lund.
"Our technicians had to unbolt the dummy's foot from its leg in order to free it. Entrapment is pretty rare. That's only happened five other times in a small overlap test."
The Challenger's result makes sense when you consider its relatively old age as a platform next to that of the Mustang or Camaro. On the flip side, the Challenger and Mustang each earn an extra point for having their own front crash–prevention warning systems, while the Camaro did not.