Puny ponies? How muscle cars do in crash tests – USA TODAY

It’s a question safety experts get asked often: How do muscle cars perform in crash tests?

The answer, it turns out, is good, but not great.

In a departure from its typical emphasis on mainstream vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety decided to crash-test the three top-selling muscle cars in the U.S.: the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang.

“Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it’s especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash,” IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a statement.

To earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation, cars must achieve good ratings in five categories — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations — and must receive at least a basic score in front crash prevention.

The Challenger, made by Fiat Chrysler, trailed its competitors, General Motors’ Camaro and Ford’s Mustang.

None of the three muscle cars qualified for Top Safety Pick honors:

Mustang: Earned good ratings on all five main categories except small overlap front, in which it received an acceptable mark, and received a basic rating in front crash prevention.

Camaro: Received good ratings on all five main categories except roof strength, in which it received an acceptable mark, but did not receive a rating for front crash prevention.

Challenger: Received good ratings in moderate overlap front and side, acceptable ratings in roof strength and head restraints and seats, and a marginal rating in small overlap front.

“IIHS doesn’t typically crash-test sports cars as they make up a small share of the consumer market,” the institute said in a statement. “IIHS engineers decided to evaluate these models with optional V-8 engines because they are big sellers in their class, and consumers often ask how they would perform in crash tests.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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