The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released results from a new frontal crash test that only 3 of 11 luxury cars successfully passed.

The test, known as a small overlap crash, propels a car at 40 mph into a five foot high stationary object, hitting only the corner of the car into the object. Since the crash bypasses most of the car's ability to absorb the crash, vehicles fared much worse in the small overlap crash, intended to simulate hitting a pole, tree or the edge of another vehicle.

"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," Institute president Adrian Lund said. "This new test program is based on years of analyzing real-world frontal crashes and then replicating them in our crash test facility to determine how people are being seriously injured and how cars can be designed to protect them better. We think this is the next step in improving frontal crash protection."

While cars makers have created much more robust crash cages around the passenger compartment of most vehicles, there appears to be a weakness on the edges of that cage, especially if only the edge hits an object.

In one instance, the Volkswagen CC sheared off its door during the accident. Furthermore, IIHS found that there appears to be a gap in airbag coverage during these accidents, allowing drivers to sometimes hit their heads against the bar that holds up the windshield, known as the A pillar.

The gap in airbag coverage occurs when the side airbags do not deploy and the front airbag on the steering wheel shifts to the middle of the car during impact. During testing of the MKZ, the driver's head missed all of the airbags during the accident test.Many of the side curtain airbags do not push far enough forward to protect someone from the A pillar, researchers noted.

"These are severe crashes, and our new test reflects that," Lund said. "Most automakers design their vehicles to ace our moderate overlap frontal test and NHTSA's full-width frontal test, but the problem of small overlap crashes hasn't been addressed. We hope our new rating program will change that."

The influential automotive magazine "Consumer Reports" applauded the new IIHS test but noted some potential problems as well.

"As manufacturers design to do well in this test, it might mean adding weight, which in turn would adversely affect fuel economy," it said. "Such trade-offs have always been the price to pay in safety engineering. But if it's a real life-saver, we believe a trivial sacrifice in fuel economy is well worth it."

The three 2012 cars that successfully passed the test included the Volvo S60, the Acura TL and the Infiniti G with an acceptable rating.

The other eight that failed the test include: The BMW 3 Series, the Acura TSX, the Lincoln MKZ, and the Volkswagen CC all scored marginal ratings. The Mercedes C-Class, the Lexus IS 250/350, the Audi A4, and Lexus ES 350 all earned poor ratings.

The IIHS focused on luxury cars because those typically have the strongest safety ratings out of any vehicles and are the first to adopt new safety features.


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  • 35 Comments
      porsha993
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm glad they are beginning to look at more real-world type crashes. Unsafe cars get good ratings in the standard offset test because manufacturers build them to pass that specific test and nothing more. My 20 year-old sister died when the Subaru she was a passenger in clipped a tree stump just off the side of the road. The front fender, front passenger door and B-pillar sheared off the car then the car split in half along the spot weld seams under the front seats.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @porsha993
        Holy s**t dude! Iam so sorry for your loss! It is clear that fuel economy is worth sacraficing for safety, hands down, no questions asked.
      JCP MOTORSPORTS
      • 2 Years Ago
      The tests should be monitorized by the manufactures officials in order to understand and verify the truth of the test.
        paulthamec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JCP MOTORSPORTS
        Why would the insurance institute lie......it would save them millions and more just in a year. plus it may save your life one day....
        flhawk21
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JCP MOTORSPORTS
        Absolutely not! Insurance Institute works without the cooperation of the manufacturers so there is no input from them in their findings. We do not need manufacturers telling us in a study THEY conduct that their cars are safe. You watch... in 2 years, car safety with the slight offset crash will greatly improve from these independent tests.
      RichHookUp. C0M
      • 2 Years Ago
      Many young women are looking to date older men, mainly because older men are usually more successful in career and financially secured. ------ MY NAME ------ is the largest rich men dating site with over 1,700,000 rich men and beautiful young women. If you are 40 plus single rich men, why not date a beautiful young woman to make your sex life more adventurous? You see? Didn't I tell you?! Now you owe me a hundred bucks because I specifically told you American and European models would lose out to Japanese models even if they rated better!! But it just doesn't matter, my friend. Like Lisa Douglas, I'm completely "shmitten" with American cars and trucks. As Ms. Lauren Bacall would
      xst0nahx
      • 2 Years Ago
      who cares theres No such thing as a satety car..all cars are a death trap..WHO CARESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
      • 2 Years Ago
      If most of these luxury cars failed this test.....I can only imagine how the small "smart cars" would fair!
      goatcars
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think we should all be required to drive cars built for NASCAR racing....If we save one life it's worth it.....Or, we can reduce the speed limit to 39MPH and save the world from death into a fixed barrier at 40 MPH !!!!
      Gregory
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cars can be made safer thru engineering and technology. Stupidity cannot be made safer.
      Gregory
      • 2 Years Ago
      Outcomes are the result of input parameters. In physics, core science of crash testing, change angle, surface area, weight, and speed at impact with an immoveable object and the outcomes (energy output, distribution, intensity) will differ.
      sgentilejr
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is no such thing as a 'bad or unsafe vehicle'___just bad drivers. Vehicles do not cause accidents. It is__the nut behind the wheel that cause accidents. If you want to hit trees or light poles___just leave your car home and run into them on foot.
      jbarker449
      • 2 Years Ago
      In my opinion ,we should all go back to bicycles and horses. Travel was much less dangerous before the internal combustion engine. Lets eliminate electricity also so there will be no deaths from electrcution. The real solution to our energy crises is walking so no more problems with obesity. Just deinvent everything in the past 200 years and we will all be happy
        paulthamec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jbarker449
        Bikes yes, horses no.....have you ever jumped started a horse?
      RED SKULL
      • 2 Years Ago
      I dumped my japanese car years ago. nothing but problems and they look so cheap. They were great in the 80's and early 90's but now I would not even consider them. Not bashing them I drove them for years now I think American cars are much better no need to drive an import.
        arvig
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RED SKULL
        And I have a Japanese car that I bought in 2009 that has been completly trouble free and doesn't look cheap at all. My previous car I bought in 2003 and was also a Japanese brand. I'm not saying there's bad American brands, far from it. Most of the cars I owned in the 1990's were American brands. When I go to trade in my current, if I see an American or European car that I like enough to buy, I'll get it. But I won't exclude Japanese brands and may even look at Korean cars when that time comes.
      meezmos
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just build the car around a full roll cage, hide it in accessories etc.
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