Two midsize luxury cars earned good ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new crash test for safety in frontal collisions, while most earned mediocre or poor ratings.
The new test is tougher than the frontal crash test that has been run by the institute since 1995. It will result in more stringent criteria for vehicles to earn the top safety rating from the institute.
Of 11 2012 models tested, the Volvo S60 and the Acura EL earned good ratings, and the Infiniti G was rated as acceptable. The Acura TSX, BMW 3 series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC earned marginal ratings. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS 250/350, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350 received poor ratings.
In the test, 25 percent of a car's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A dummy is belted in the driver seat. The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.
"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," Institute President Adrian Lund says in a press statement. "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."
The institute plans to add the new test to the battery of evaluations it conducts for the "Top Safety Pick," award, which recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover and rear crashes. Existing criteria will remain in place, though, for the 2013 award cycle. Cars that perform well in the new test will receive special recognition.