They’re fast, yes, but are they safe? That’s the question the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wanted to answer by recently testing three iconic muscle cars – the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger – for the first time.
What they found is, overall, muscle cars aren’t getting the same attention to safety as family cars.
The insurance group, which is very well known for its crash tests, just put all three V8-equipped models through a battery of crash tests and none of them pulled into first place with the group’s top safety ratings.
None of them qualified for 2016 TOP SAFETY PICK. To earn that rating a vehicle must earn good ratings in five crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — as well as a basic rating for front crash prevention. To qualify for 2016 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
So here’s how the ratings shape up.
The Ford Mustang comes closest to earning TOP SAFETY PICK. It missed the mark because it only earned an acceptable – not good – rating in the tough small overlap front test.
While the Camaro did well in the small overlap test, it fell short when it comes to roof strength. It was also knocked out of Top Safety Pick contention because it doesn’t have an available front crash prevention system like the Mustang and Challenger do.
The Challenger may have the front crash prevention system option, but it needs the most improvement overall. It only received two good ratings out of the five testing areas.
So why hasn’t the IIHS done such extensive testing on sports cars before? Researchers say it’s because they make up such a small share of the entire market. They tested these with V8 engines because they are the biggest sellers in their class, and drivers often asked about the crash worthiness ratings.
Check out the IIHS video below to see video of the crash tests and more details about the results.