The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has just finished crash testing muscle cars from the Detroit Big Three. The Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger take on the tough small overlap crash test for the first time.

Small overlap crash tests are more demanding on the car's structure as only 25 percent of the car gets slammed into a solid wall at 64 km/h, leaving less area for crash protection. With the recent testing of the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang, it was the first time the organization crash tested sports cars in the small overlap. “Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” said Adrian Lund, IIHS president.

All these cars received a Good rating in the Institute's moderate overlap crash where each car is slammed into a deformable barrier at 64 km/h. The trio also got Good ratings across the board in the side impact test. Meanwhile the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger rated well in the roof strength test as both got a Good rating. The Camaro on the other hand was rated Acceptable.

All three however rated differently during the small overlap crash test. The Chevrolet Camaro scored the highest. Survival space for the driver in the Camaro was well- maintained, and the risk of injuries to the dummy’s legs and feet was low. “The Camaro’s safety cage is built to resist intrusion in a small overlap crash, and that’s good news for Camaro drivers,” said Lund.

For its performance in the small overlap crash, the Ford Mustang was rated Acceptable. During the test, the roof buckled and survival space was compromised by significant intrusion of the door hinge pillar and instrument panel. Despite that, data from the dummy indicated low risk of injuries to all body regions, including the legs and feet. “The Mustang is just one good rating away from earning Top Safety Pick but its small overlap rating holds it back,” said Lund. A car receives the Institute's Top Safety Pick if it is able to score Good in all of its tests.

The Dodge Challenger did not fare as well as the Ford and the Chevrolet. It only received IIHS' second lowest rating of Marginal. The Challenger exhibited significant intrusion into the lower occupant compartment limited survival space for the driver and resulted in a poor rating for structure and for leg/foot protection. Lund adds, “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.”