Although they come with a higher price tag, popular luxury cars may not be the safest vehicles on the road. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) raised the bar for the perfect five-star safety rating and several luxury cars struggled to meet the mark.
NHTSA and IIHS now include a very difficult test as part of the rating process: a dangerous frontal crash where a vehicle strikes another car or object, such as a telephone pole, with a small portion of the front bumper. The test has been included in the new safety standards because close to a quarter of serious and fatal injuries are caused by small overlap impacts, according to IIHS.
Forbes reports of the cars tested, some of the ones that most expected to excel performed poorly, namely the Mercedes-Benz C-class, Lexus IS and ES and the Audi A4. Cars that received the top rating of "good" included the Acura TL and Volvo S60. Nissan's Infiniti G achieved the "acceptable" rating while the Acura TSX, BMW 3-series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC earned "marginal" ratings.
The safety standards spur the auto industry to make safer cars though many manufacturers may grumble about the fairness of the testing. Ultimately, higher standards and regular car tune ups help maintain better road safety.