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Is Your Luxury Car Really as Safe as it Promises?

Luxury cars are supposed to be the cream of the crop. Consumers pay higher prices for these vehicles because they purport to offer a safer and more comfortable ride than other cars. However, recent testing from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that luxury cars may not be as safe as they purport to be.

Eight out of 11 luxury models failed the IIHS’s new test, which is designed to imitate a specific kind of frontal crash. This crash involves the vehicle hitting another car or stationary object with a small part of the front bumper. This is known as a “small overlap” impact.

Almost every new car within the past few years has been earning a rating of “good” from the IIHS impact testing as a direct result of manufacturers’ efforts to improve safety. The small overlap test was created to find weak spots in the cars’ designs.

Adrian Lund, president of the IIHS said there are over 10,000 deaths in frontal crashes each year, despite the improvements in safety.

The new test involves the vehicle traveling at 40 miles per hour, then hitting a barrier with a quarter of the driver’s side bumper. This type of impact concentrates the impact force in a small area, which causes the car to spin.

The findings uncovered that the smaller area of impact made it more difficult for the cars’ structure to spread the forces from the collision around the driver. During the crash, the front wheel on the driver’s side enters the passenger compartment, potentially causing serious leg and foot injuries. The spinning after impact makes it more difficult for the airbags to keep occupants from hitting objects in the car’s interior.

Auto manufacturers have responded by pledging to improve their models in order to do better in the test in the future.

Source:, “Luxury cars flunk new tougher crash test,” August 14, 2012.

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