The Acura TL withstood the test (Photo : Acura)
In a unique Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) frontal crash test, the majority of 2012 midsize luxury sedans tested scored poorly.
The crash tests conducted were not full head-on crashes, but crashes in which 25 percent of a car's front strikes an object.
"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," IIHS president Adrian Lund said in the statement releasing the test results. "Small overlap crashes are a major source of these fatalities. 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."
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In a test of eleven midsize luxury sedans, only the Acura TL and Volvo S60 were rated "Good". The Infiniti G was rated "Acceptable".
The Acura TSX, the TSX Sport Wagon, the BMW 3 Series, the Lincoln MKZ, and the Volkswagen CC all received a rating of "Marginal".
Receiving ratings of "Poor" were the Audi A4, the Mercedes C Class, the Lexus ES 350, and the Lexus IS 250/350.
The problem, the IIHS says, is that cars' safety cages and crush zones are generally designed to withstand frontal collisions and moderate and moderate overlap collisions. Severe overlap collisions, however, frequently impact front wheels, suspension systems, and firewalls, sending wheels backwards into the passenger compartment.
"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."
He added that luxury cars were the first to receive the test because they are the cars that generally benefit first from safety advances.
Volvo has been carrying out overlap tests since the 1980s, making it unsurprising that the Volvo S60 experienced one-tenth of the passenger compartment intrusion that the Lexus IS did. In the IS, like the Mercedes C Class, the dummy's foot became pinned by impact from the wheel.
Other disturbing crash results noted by the IIHS were the Audi A4's door flying open, and the Volkswagen CC's door being torn completely from its hinges.