Most mid-size luxury cars — including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class — performed poorly in a new frontal crash test developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The new test is designed to replicate what happens when a car strikes another car or a fixed object like a tree or utility pole. The test strikes 25 per cent of a car’s front end into a five-foot rigid barrier at 40 miles per hour.
The results don’t bode well for non-luxury models, which will be the next to undergo the new test. Insurance Institute crash test results are closely watched by the auto industry and often lead to changes in design or safety features. Good scores are also frequently touted in car ads.
Of the 11 cars tested, only the Acura TL, Volvo S60 and Infiniti G earned good or acceptable ratings from the institute, which is funded by insurers.
Four cars — the Acura TSX, BMW 3 Series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC — earned marginal ratings. Four others — the Mercedes C-Class, Lexus IS 250, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350 — earned poor ratings. Marginal or poor ratings indicate the cars wouldn’t protect occupants very well in a real-world crash.
Watch a video of the IIHS’ new crash test below:
All of the cars tested were from the 2012 model year.
The institute said the new test indicates that side air bags — which are designed for direct impact, T-bone crashes but not for off-centre, frontal ones — may not go off in time or extend far enough to protect occupants. In three cars — the BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen — the seatbelts spooled out too much after the crash, causing the crash-test dummies to strike hard surfaces. The Volkswagen’s door was completely sheared off during the test.
Mercedes said it didn’t agree with its ranking and pointed out that the C-Class is listed as one of the institute’s top safety picks. Mercedes said the crash test mimics an unusually severe and uncommon scenario.
“As a leader in automotive safety, we have full confidence in the protection that the C-Class affords its occupants — and less confidence in any test that doesn’t reflect that,” Mercedes said in a statement.
Toyota Motor Co., which owns the Lexus brand, accepted the results.
“With this new test, the Institute has raised the bar again and we will respond to this challenge as we design new vehicles,” Toyota said.
But Toyota also noted that it has more top safety picks — 17 — than any other automaker.
The Insurance Institute said it plans to change its criteria for the top safety picks next year to incorporate the new test. The group said developed the test after years of analyzing real-world frontal crashes, which kill more than 10,000 people annually in the U.S.
Columns & Advice
Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND â€œAS AVAILABLEâ€ BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STARâ€™S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X