5 On Your Side

Muscle cars have weak showing in safety tests

Posted May 24, 2016 6:37 p.m. EDT

The term “muscle car” is often associated with powerful, American cars but recent tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show the cars may not be a safe option.

Whether it’s a Ford Mustang, a Chevy Camaro or a Dodge Challenger, people don’t buy sports cars to drive in the slow lane. New this year, the IIHS did crash tests on several muscle cars, which are gaining popularity.

The tests looked at everything from side impact crashes to head and neck restraints.

“Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer their occupants the best possible protection in a crash,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

Of the three cars, the Dodge Challenger earned the lowest overall rating. In a 40 mph crash, the front wheel shoved toward the driver’s compartment, leaving what the IIHS called “limited survival space.” That kind of crash accounts for about 25 percent of serious and deadly wrecks.

The Camaro earned a “good” rating in that test, but overall, landed in the middle in terms of safety.

The Mustang rated “acceptable” in the 40 mph test, which was the one category that prevented it from becoming a Top Safety Pick.

Of the three, the Mustang scored the highest, nearly equal in safety to many family cars.

The Mustang and Challenger that were tested also had crash prevention technology, which can help prevent an accident or lessen the severity.