Official: IIHS launching first new frontal crash test since 1995
Official: IIHS launching first new frontal crash test since 1995
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has unveiled a new crash testing methodology in dramatic fashion Ė by dinging some of the most popular entry luxury sedans for failing to adequately protect the driver during certain types of crashes. The 2012 Acura TSX, 2012 BMW 3-Series, 2012 Lincoln MKZ and 2012 Volkswagen CC were all deemed "marginal," while the 2012 Audi A4, 2012 Lexus ES, 2012 Lexus IS, and 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class were called "poor" by the testing group.
The new test is designed to simulate the effects of hitting a tree or pole at 40 miles per hour, but rather than striking the object dead-on, the IIHS delivers a more glancing blow that only impacts a quarter of the car's front end. These types of collisions are particularly dangerous, as the impact will often miss the energy-absorbing structures built into the car's frame.
"These are severe crashes, and our new test reflects that," said IIHS President Adrian Lund in a statement. "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."
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but the new testing regimen will undoubtedly annoy luxury carmakers like Audi, BMW and Mercedes whose vehicles did not fare so well. Volvo, whose S60 was given a "good" rating, will likely be pleased to retain its reputation for safety. The only other of the vehicles IIHS tested to perform as well was the Acura TL, while the Infiniti G sedan was deemed "acceptable."
ARLINGTON, Va. — Only 3 of 11 midsize luxury and near-luxury cars evaluated earn good or acceptable ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new small overlap frontal crash test, the latest addition to a suite of tests designed to help consumers pick the safest vehicles.
The Acura TL and Volvo S60 earn good ratings, while the Infiniti G earns acceptable. The Acura TSX, BMW 3 series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC earn marginal ratings. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS 250/350, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350 earn poor. All of these cars are 2012 models. See these ratings in table format.
In the test, 25 percent of a car's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy is belted in the driver seat. The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. Outside of some automakers' proving grounds, such a test isn't currently conducted anywhere else in the United States or Europe.
Less than delighted with the IS performance in this one test, although I do acknowledge that the IS has overall received good ratings in crash tests. Like in this IIHS video from Aug 2011 where it received a "good" rating in the original version of this test.
For years, cars have been doing better and better in crash tests. Now, a tough new test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given a black eye to a number of luxury and near-luxury automakers.
Of 11 models tested, eight flunked a new test which is designed to mimic the most dangerous sort of frontal crash -- when a vehicle strikes another car or an object, such as a tree, with just a small portion of the front bumper.
Virtually all new cars in recent years have earned good ratings from the privately funded IIHS' crash tests, as automakers have worked to improve safety. So the IIHS created the new tougher test which is known as the "small overlap" impact.
"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.
In the new front crash test, the vehicle, traveling at a speed of 40 miles per hour, hits a barrier with just a quarter of the driver's side bumper, concentrating the impact force in a small area and causing the vehicle to spin.
About a quarter of the 10,000 fatalities seen each year are caused by "small overlap" impacts, according to the Institute. These crashes can also cause severe foot and leg injuries as the car's front wheel is pushed back into passenger compartment.
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The smaller impact area makes it harder for the car's steel structures to spread impact forces around the driver. The spinning motion after the impact also makes it harder for the car's airbags to protect occupants from hitting parts of the car's interior.
In current front impact tests, which will still be used along with the new test, 40% of the car's front bumper strikes the barrier. Financed by auto insurers the IIHS performs a regimen of crash tests that's different from tests performed by government safety regulators.
In the most recent round of IIHS results only Honda's (HMC) Acura TL and Volvo S60 earned the Institute's top rating of "good." The Acura TSX, BMW 3-series, Ford's (, Fortune 500) Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen (VLKAF) CC earned a rating of "marginal," the 2nd-worst of 4 possible ratings.
The Mercedes-Benz C-class, Lexus IS and ES and the Audi A4 earned the worst rating, "poor," in the new test.
Most automakers with models that performed poorly in the tests pointed out that their cars still meet all federal safety standards and have done well in other crash tests. Automakers also pledged to work to do better in the test with future models.
"With this new test, the Institute has raised the bar again and we will respond to this challenge as we design new vehicles," said Brian Lyons, a spokesman for Toyota Motor Sales (), USA, which sells Lexus vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz objected to the new test.
"As a leader in automotive safety, we have full confidence in the protection that the C-Class affords its occupants -- and less confidence in any test that doesn't reflect that," the German automaker said in a statement.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
there are number of people asking why would customer so loyal to Honda, even when their engine is not the strongest, and style is questionable. and i suppose this offer a reason? there is a lot of stuff goes under the skin that does not reflect into the spec.
this is imo a decent test, as a lot of front collisions are not 'head on', they're offset, like this test.
car mfrs for years have built to pass or look good in the tests, so you get when you incent. so now there's a different test. this is a good thing as it's not govt telling car makers they have to do x or y, it's just doing a test and putting the info out there for consumers to make an informed choice. of course another thread here says a bunch of consumers never even test drive a car before buying it.
TLN #911 * Stop Global Whining
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Makes sense to me. With the lighter weight materials and the use of crumple zones, automakers strengthen the parts that are needed to score well on the existing tests. Might it be the case that the new test just happens to hit where a lot of firms choose to make their crumple zones?
'07 IS350, Tungsten/Black Lux/Nav/ML
Aerotect Clear Bra/Redouts/Blue Fog Overlays
The replacements for the current IS and ES are coming out very soon but I'm not sure if the replacements are designed with better structure to withstand this test in mind. If they're not (quite likely the case to be honest) we might be looking at a full model cycle of low ratings for the IS and ES. Kudos to Acura and Volvo for performing so well in a test that nobody asked them to do well in. That's true commitment to safety, not safety test.