Dodge Challenger Nets Worst Score in Muscle Car Crash Tests

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

If you’re going to hit a pole in a Dodge Challenger, it’s better to nail that sucker head-on or it miss altogether.

That’s the takeaway from a series of crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where Dodge’s muscle coupe scored itself a “marginal” rating in the small front overlap test.

The IIHS normally doesn’t test niche vehicles, but V8-powered Challenger, Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro models are hot-selling items and buyers demanded it.

All three vehicles fared differently in the dreaded front small overlap test, where only 25 percent of the vehicle strikes a rigid barrier at 40 miles per hour. Added in 2012, the test has sunk the ratings of otherwise safe vehicles.

The Camaro walked away with a “good” rating in that test, while the Mustang scored an “acceptable” rating due to intrusion into the driver’s space. The Challenger sports the oldest architecture of the three, and that straw house was blown down by the test.

The result? Expect grievous lower leg injuries.

“During the crash, the Challenger’s front wheel was forced rearward into the occupant compartment, and the footwell intrusion trapped the dummy’s left foot and deformed its ankle,” IIHS president Adrian Lund said in a statement.

“Our technicians had to unbolt the dummy’s foot from its leg in order to free it. Entrapment is pretty rare. That’s only happened five other times in a small overlap test.”

The small overlap fail earned the Challenger a “marginal” rating, the second-lowest grade a vehicle can get.

Despite its so-so performance on that test, the Mustang scored top marks for moderate overlap, side impact, roof strength, as well as for head restraints and seats. The Camaro’s only weakness was in roof strength (which seems weird — there’s barely any window on the thing), where it earned an “acceptable” rating.

The Challenger got top marks for moderate overlap and side impacts, but roof strength and restraints were demoted to “acceptable.”

Like many before it, one of the testers was held back a grade thanks to its small overlap marks.

“The Mustang is just one good rating away from earning TOP SAFETY PICK,” Lund said “Its small overlap rating holds it back.”

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on May 24, 2016

    A guy at work let his 17 year old nephew drive his '15 R/T and he promptly hit a ditch culvert at 80mph with his 3 buddies in the car and cartwheeled it a few times. They all walked away, so it fares well in the drunken dumbass collision test.

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    • RetroGrouch RetroGrouch on May 25, 2016

      @bigtruckseriesreview @ Youtube It is hot today. Must be the global warming.

  • PartsUnknown PartsUnknown on May 25, 2016

    I'm just happy there's one less ghastly purple car on public roads.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.