Video: Crash-Testing America’s Favorite Muscle Cars

Muscle Car CrashThe Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang are among America’s sportiest cars. But how do they fare in a crash? Thanks to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, we’ve got the facts—and some eye-opening video. 



“When people think  about sports car performance,” says Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “safety ratings aren’t the first things that come to mind.” Seeking to change that state of affairs, IIHS recently subjected the three All-American muscle cars of 2016—Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, and Chevrolet Camaro—to its full suite of crash test procedures.

So how did they do? Cutting to the chase: While they turned in fairly respectable performances, none of the three sporty cars earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick rating, alas. The Mustang came close but with only an “Acceptable” score in the new and demanding small overlap frontal impact test, fell a click short. The Camaro scored a “Good” ranking in the small overlap test, but scored only “Acceptable” in the roof strength crush test, and it lacks an active front crash avoidance system. The Challenger, introduced in 2008 and thus handicapped with the oldest platform of the group, earned a disappointing “Marginal” rank in the small overlap test. A breakdown of the test categories and results are found in the infographic below, courtesy of IIHS.


IIHS Crash infographic


“Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” notes Lund. Of course, the best impact protection on earth is of limited value if you insist on using your smartphone behind the wheel, or if you drive like a jerk. For an eye-opening exhibition of the IIHS test procedures with a special focus on the small offset test, check out the video below. And please drive safely.



5 thoughts on “Video: Crash-Testing America’s Favorite Muscle Cars

  1. I appreciate the efforts of the Insurance Institute in that it points out what is wrong or can go wrong with cars on the road. But I have to ask the question: How safe is safe enough? Do we need to drive surplus tanks at a maximum speed of 15 mph? The manufacturers are doing a stellar job of ensuring the safety of the occupants of its cars but people are still losing their lives.

    The biggest problem isn’t especially how safe the cars are; it’s how fast everyone is trying to drive. The age old law of kinetic energy is still well and good today; objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Slow everyone down and injuries/deaths will drop dramatically. Back when the 55 mph speed limit was imposed, serious injuries and deaths dropped. Cars are safe; what needs to be done is slow everyone DOWN! There really is NO reason you need to drive 80; take an extra minute and drive 65.

    • No reason to drive 80 !??! Have you ever driven across Kansas ?
      I agree with the rest of your post.

      • Hi Chris. Yes, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana of course, Nevada. Two or three times a year my wife and I drive down to Aztec, NM, to see our daughter/son-in-law, and the grandkids. Not much to see along the normal route there unless you really crave adventure and take the Ouray-Silverton road. I’m just as guilty as the others because I drive 80 as well. The biggest problem with an 80 mph limit is that so many drive at 100. I drive 80 down the I-15 and even the odd semi is passing me. People DO get used to new limits. I remember how going from ‘Reasonable and Prudent’ (usually 70+) down to 55 cramped my style. I eventually got used to taking another minute to get where I was going, although I got cited for 70 quite a number of times; that was usually a $5.00 charge for ‘Abuse of a Vital Resource.’

  2. They all fold up like a wet noodle. I guess that is to absorb energy, since they are all plastic and aluminum anymore. No wonder even a small crash equals a totaled out car.

  3. The manufacturers build cars to pass crash tests, cars seldom crash into a fixed object as such. Usually 2 cars hit each other, or hit a pole, or other roadside objects. Then the results are usually quite different. The big cast alloy wheels too are part of the problem as well as attachment. Build the car more fragile so the wheel falls off to pass a test and the wheel [and suspension] may then fall off hitting a kerb which in turn causes a larger accident.
    Passing these tests usually results in a stronger car, but by far from always.
    The same as emmisions testing!!

Comments are closed.