American muscle cars not so top class in safety area, IIHS crash tests show image

Plenty of grunt, but short on safety, IIHS says about the US iconic muscle-car trio after the institute put them through its rigorous crash tests.

The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not usually performs such crash tests on low-volume sport cars, but this time it made an exception for the popular 2016 models of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang muscle cars powered by V-8 engines. And the results have not been the expected ones, as none of them managed to be rewarded even with Top Safety Pick rating. Mustang was the closest one, followed by Camaro which fell short in one category, lacking an available front crash prevention system, while Challenger “is most in need of improvement.”

The trio earned good ratings for occupant protection in a moderate overlap front crash, as well as a side impact, but in the in the newest and toughest IIHS crashworthiness evaluation, the small overlap front test, the Camaro received a good rating, the Mustang earned acceptable and the Challenger was only rated with marginal. The Dodge muscle car was not up to the challenge of the small overlap test, as it showed extensive intrusion into the lower occupant compartment limiting the driver’s survival space and resulting in a poor rating for structure and for leg/foot protection.

By contrast, survival space for the driver in the Camaro was well-maintained, and the risk of injuries to the dummy’s legs and feet was low. The Mustang’s structural performance in the small overlap test fell short of the Camaro’s but was an improvement over the Challenger. “Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” Adrian Lund, IIHS president, said. “The Mustang is just one good rating away from earning Top Safety Pick,” he added. “Its small overlap rating holds it back.”