Luxury Frontal Crash Test
You could call it a case of midsize misfortune, as several of the world’s top selling luxury cars are slammed with sub-standard crash test results.
A new frontal crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is making ripples with big name brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus-all receiving marginal or poor ratings. According to the IIHS, the new “small overlap frontal crash test” represents all too common crash scenarios like hitting a tree, utility pole, or another car. In the 40 mile-per-hour test, only twenty five percent of a vehicle’s front-end strikes a tall, rigid barrier. The previous, moderate off-set crash test used a shorter, deformable barrier and spread the impact across nearly half of the car’s front end.
Of the eleven cars tested, only two received the top “good” ratings: the Acura TL and Volvo S60. The Infiniti G earned an “acceptable” rating, while the Acura TSX, Lincoln MKZ, Volkswagen CC, and BMW 3 series were deemed “marginal”. The Lexus I-S and E-S received “poor” ratings, as did the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.
With nearly ten thousand fatalities every year resulting from front-end collisions, the IIHS believes improved car design-- that can protect occupants---will drastically reduce that number.
A “good” crash score requires that both front and side airbags deploy properly, and that nothing breaches the passenger compartment. With few exceptions, this was not the case in the first round of testing. Another major concern is vehicle integrity, as the impact often misses the front frame crumple zones. This means other structural components, like the A-pillar and firewall must absorb more of the impact. And while some cars, like the Volvo S60, are built with the small overlap crashes in mind… most are not.
This new test has clearly exposed a major shortcoming in vehicle crash worthiness- an issue that all car makers now must tackle head-on.