Dodge Challenger Nets Worst Score in Muscle Car Crash Tests

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
dodge challenger nets worst score in muscle car crash tests

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.”

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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.

    • See 5 previous
    • 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.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂