The Latest Luxury Cars Struggle in Recent Crash Tests

Chances are, if you asked most people what their dream car is, at least one luxury model is going to be on their list. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that. Aside from being aesthetically attractive, luxury vehicles tend to come with the kind of reputation that they do because of the quality of their design along with its operational dependability. In other words, purchasing a BMW, Mercedes or Acura is not likely to be the car that you want to sell or trade in because it’s “breaking down all of the time”. A lot of work was put into making these cars worthy of the hefty price tag that people usually have to pay to in order to own one.

That’s a part of the reason why it is a bit surprising (with the potential of becoming quite alarming) that, reportedly, some of the latest luxury cars have been struggling when it comes to passing their recent crash tests.

There is a bit of a background story behind why this may in fact be the case. In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decided that it was time that cars be put through far more rigorous testing than they have in times past. So, in order to get a five-star rating, it was going to take a lot more work than most car companies were prepared for. By following in their footsteps, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also administered similar tests this year and their first round of results has proven to be not so great for many of the more popular luxury car brands. Unfortunately, only three of the 11 total 2012 models cars that were underwent the small overlap frontal crash test ended up receiving passing ratings.

The three cars that got these “honorable mentions” were the Acura TL, the Volvo S60 and the Infiniti G (which really only good “acceptable” marks while the former two got “good grades”). Cars like the BMW 3 Series and the Lincoln MKZ received marginal scores while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS 250/350 and Audi A4 actually ended up with poor ratings.

These results definitely only add to the opinion of some critics that many luxury cars are, in reality, not much better than some used cars and used trucks; that it is simply their design that makes them so exceptional. That might be reaching a bit, but the tests don’t lie and it is definitely going to be up to the manufacturers of these vehicles to reevaluate some of their procedures.

In the meantime, the IIHS is moving forward with their new frontal tests, which consists of crashing cars at approximately 40mph with 25 percent of the car’s front end (on the driver’s side) hitting a five-foot tall barrier. According to them, this is customarily what happens when a car hits another vehicle, tree or utility pole; that it is far less common to experience an “exact” head-on collision.

And yes, there are critics that would like it to be noted that the IIHS is car insurance industry associated and so even their testing is being done with that kind of focus in mind. Either way, a crash is a crash and some luxury cars have a lot of work on their hands. Indeed, there’s nothing “luxurious” about a car that’s unsafe.
Here’s to better marks on your retakes, luxury models. The best of luck to you, for sure.

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