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Crash-test dummies: Muscle cars not that hot in IIHS testing

While not a single vehicle earned the group's Top Safety Pick rating, the Camaro and Mustang were close in different ways.

Maybe if the Camaro came with a windshield large enough for humans to see through it, Chevrolet could have found space for a forward collision warning.


In enthusiast circles, the Ford Mustang's been getting an unfair rap of late. After bearing witness to a whole host of 'Stangs crashing on the way out of cars-and-coffee-style events, the Mustang became the poster child for car-show trouble. Thankfully, the latest IIHS crash tests indicate that you'll be pretty safe if you do end up crashing in a Mustang.

For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put three proper muscle cars to the test -- the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. Each went through the traditional battery of IIHS testing, including roof crushing and the infamous small-overlap test. The result is not as bad as you might think, but all three cars failed to earn a Top Safety Pick (TSP) rating.

The Mustang was one test -- small front overlap -- away from earning a TSP. The Camaro fared better than the Mustang on that test, but it didn't do so well on the roof-strength test. And it was barred from receiving the ultimate award, Top Safety Pick+, because it doesn't have a forward collision warning -- which is an option for both the Challenger and Mustang.

Speaking of Challenger, it fared the worst of the three. It only scored Acceptable (instead of Good) in both roof strength and head restraint tests, but perhaps most damning is its Marginal rating in the small overlap test. The passenger cell folded over the dummy's foot during the accident, meaning the dummy had to have its foot removed before being pulled from the car.

You might not want to watch the below video if you own a Challenger. But if you're a Mustang owner and your friend has a Challenger, you could be that jerk and send them this story.

Odds are 2:1 that I'll get a phone call from one of the manufacturers in this story saying, "the car was developed before these tests were created." While that may be true, it doesn't make this picture any better.