CARS.COM — Muscle cars may be strong in speed but they’re wimps in crashworthiness. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today released the crash test scores of a classic trio of muscle cars — the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang.
All three fell short — in some cases, way short — of the finish line to win an IIHS Top Safety Pick designation or the institute’s highest distinction, Top Safety Pick Plus. To qualify as a Top Safety Pick, cars must earn good ratings in five crashworthiness tests including small and moderate overlap front, side impact, roof strength and head restraints/seats, and earn at least a basic rating for their front crash prevention system. The Plus designation requires an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
The Mustang came closest, with good ratings in moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints/seats, as well as a basic rating for its available front crash prevention system. But the ‘Stang fell short in the challenging small overlap front crash test, earning only an acceptable rating. The next-closest was the redesigned-for-2016 Camaro, which earned good ratings in all tests except roof strength, for which it received acceptable; the Camaro offers no front crash prevention system, however, disqualifying it from Top Safety Pick consideration.
The Challenger’s crash testing was full of challenges. Despite good scores for moderate front overlap and side impact evaluations as well as basic for front crash prevention, the Dodge coupe earned acceptable ratings in both roof strength and head restraints/seats, and a marginal score in the small overlap front test.
“The Challenger wasn’t up to the challenge of the small overlap test,” IIHS said in a statement. “Extensive intrusion into the lower occupant compartment limited the driver’s survival space and resulted in a poor rating for structure and for leg/foot protection. Measures taken from the dummy indicate a high likelihood of serious lower leg injury.”
IIHS typically does not test sports cars, which make up a small share of the overall sales market. But the institute made an exception in this case, choosing to focus on these three iconic nameplates in part to illustrate the importance of safety considerations in an automotive segment prone to high collision rates and high insurance losses.
“Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a statement.