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Dodge Challenger Nets Worst Score in Muscle Car Crash Tests

Challenger crash

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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