NBC's Today show reported that many luxury cars – supposedly synonymous with safety – perform poorly in a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test. The new IIHS test evaluates the vehicles' crash performance in a "small overlap" crash in which 25% or less of the vehicle's front structure makes contact during the collision. IIHS says this simulates a common form of crash in which a driver might cross the center line or when a vehicle hits a tree or utility pole.
If these luxury cars a failing at such a high rate, it is likely that most cars won't do well either, according to David Champion at Consumer Reports.
Adrian Lund, president of the IIHS, explains the new test and its importance in the following video:
Said Lund, "Nearly every new car performs well in other frontal crash tests conducted by the institute and federal government, but we still see more than 10,000 deaths in frontal crashes each year." Small overlap crashes, examined by the new test, "are a major source of these fatalities."
How did the various luxury vehicles fare? Here's what the IIHS found:
Lexus ES 350
Lexus IS 250
The IIHS found that while the vehicles' crush-zone structures provide more protection in a broader overlap crash, in small overlap crashes, the impact forces are born by the front wheel, suspension system, and firewall, allowing significant intrusion into the occupant survival space inside the car. IIHS attributed the Volvos' good test performance to several methods the company used to reinforce the passenger compartment safety cage, including upper rails. At the other end of the spectrum, the Volkswagen CC allowed so much intrusion that the driver's door was completely sheared off its hinges – the first time that has ever occurred in IIHS testing.
- Luxury cars fare poorly in new crash tests [Paul A. Einstein at NBC News; Tom Constello at NBC's Today Show]
- Many cars flunk new type of crash test [Jerry Hirsch at the Los Angeles Times]
- Vehicle Crashworthiness and Luxury Cars [Brian Wolfman at Public Citizen's Consumer Law & Policy Blog]
(c) Copyright 2012 Brett A. Emison
Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.