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I watched the crashes on IIHS' YouTube channel. Sure, they look terrible - but there's a couple of key reasons.

First, unlike previous crash tests, the speeds are higher. The old full and 50% offset tests were at 35mph. The new test is at 40mph. Although 5mph may not seem like much difference, the physics of it says you are not dealing in additive results, you are dealing in compounding results. If IIHS repeated the full frontal and 50% offset tests at 40mph, those results would look much worse on the same cars that fairly easily pass the current 35mph tests.

Second, the barrier is completely rigid. The full frontal and offset tests use a deformable barrier. This puts all the deformation in the new test on the car. Yes, its going to create more drastic results.

The point is that the IIHS has to keep creating new tests to try to push car design to eliminate more and more instances of 'loss' in less and less common scenarios. Car design has made the full frontal and 50% offset crashworthiness fairly easy to achieve. Side impact is also being pretty well addressed. Remember, this is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - not a government body, but an organization primarily supported by insurance companies to essentially create a basis to charge rates for insuring a car. If they can create a test that cars perform poorly in, they can justify a rate difference - read 'increase' - for those cars. They are also a lobby group, and have a large influence on the government, so they can incite new standards and regulations for vehicle manufacture.

Having watched all of these crash tests, the thing that was most obvious to me is that despite having incited much development in frontal and side airbags, they found a gap to stick an occupants head through. Now, will we get to have ANOTHER airbag stuffed in there, or will they be smart and adjust the shape of the frontal airbag to be a bit wider and 'scoop' your head into it? Which do you think will cost more? Which do you think insurance companies will prefer to discount; a higher airbag count, or a less obvious and quantifiable 'improved design'?
 

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2010 2.5 Ltd. 2009 OBS
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i'd like to add:
"The new small overlap frontal test involves 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end striking a barrier straight ahead on the driver’s side, again at 40 m.p.h."

"The door was sheared off at the hinges on the Volkswagen CC, the first vehicle to be evaluated by the I.I.H.S. to completely lose its door, the authors noted. This raised the possibility that an occupant could be partly or completely ejected from that vehicle."

It's obvious that the results will be more drastic but this volkswagen is definately a shocker.

Ric
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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i'd like to add:
"The new small overlap frontal test involves 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end striking a barrier straight ahead on the driver’s side, again at 40 m.p.h."

"The door was sheared off at the hinges on the Volkswagen CC, the first vehicle to be evaluated by the I.I.H.S. to completely lose its door, the authors noted. This raised the possibility that an occupant could be partly or completely ejected from that vehicle."

It's obvious that the results will be more drastic but this volkswagen is definately a shocker.

Ric
I saw these results this morning as well. While it's shocking to see a door sheered off, it's not necessarily due to a lack of safety on the part of the vehicle. If you watch closely as the car slams into the barrier and as the fender is ripped off, you can see there's nothing really "protecting" the hinges of the doors...on any of these cars. The frame of the car is essentially useless in this type of test, since the barrier rides on the outside of the frame as the car continues to move forward. The cars each do what they're meant to, which is maintain the safety cage around the occupants. This is a VERY specific type of test where the door hinges of all the cars have to take on way more force than they were designed for. Ultimately, I think any of those cars would have the doors ripped off if they were located in the exact same spot as the CC. It's not a VW specific problem, but rather something the industry needs to look as a whole with these new tests.

- Jeremy.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
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NHTSA tests are done at 35 mph...IIHS has always done frontal collisions at 40 mph, both old and new tests.
 

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I hit a deer, on a trip in Wyoming at night... by the time... it darted out onto the freeway and I could start braking....i was maybe going close to 45-50 mph... the impact totally busted the radiator and front hood bumper... (undriveable).. though the airbags did not go off... the car handled it fine though... as it did not swerve after impact and was able to stop controllable...

I know this is not exactly what you guys are talking about... just my 2 cents.
 

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Couple of photos of a partial head on. Due to driver incapacitation, a white Ford Windstar drifted acorss the solid double yellow line and stuck on on-coming MBZ C230 head-on. Both were traveling at about 40 mph prior to impact with no evasive action taken by either belted driver. Both vehicles rotated counter-clockwise after impact and came to rest in opposite directions.
Occupant kinematics caused the upper body mass and head of the MBZ driver to become exposed through the drivers window. The exposure caused a fatal head injury to the MBZ driver.
Stiffness of vehicle structure is the enemy in collisions. Modern vehicles are designed to crush on impact to increase the survivability of occupants by absorbing energy. Essentially the car sacrifices itself to save you.
Partial frontals involve collisions with stiff structures such as suspension mounting points. The MBZ is promoted as a safe vehicle and differences in safety engineering can clearly be seen in the increased deformation shown in the Windstar.
Had the MBZ driver not become partially ejected, this would have been survivable.

 

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Stiffness of vehicle structure is the enemy in collisions. Modern vehicles are designed to crush on impact to increase the survivability of occupants by absorbing energy.
Not quite an accurate portrayal of the situation. New vehicles are MORE rigid around the passenger compartment, and LESS rigid fore and aft of that compartment. You need stiffness to preserve passenger space, and crush to absorb impact around that space.
Partial frontals involve collisions with stiff structures such as suspension mounting points.
Except that in the videos of the tests, almost ALL of the vehicles ejected the wheel where it was struck and the suspension broke. The mounting points are normally rigid, but the mounting hardware usually isn't that robust against such impacts. Notice in your pic of the Mercedes that the tire did NOT come off. It also didn't come into the passenger compartment, as it did in one of the IIHS tests. I don't see the side airbags on the Mercedes, which makes me wonder why they wouldn't have deployed. That, combined with the compromised door, would have more to do with driver ejection than vehicle rigidity or 'crumple zones'. Also, do you have a crash report to support that the Mercedes driver was wearing a seat belt? (Or any of the other data you present, for that matter.)
 

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To pass the new test, it looks like the manufactures need to make the passenger compartment structure into a roll cages. To not increase the weight, I am betting the steel will have to change from the usual mild to high strength. It also looks like the upper fender crumple zone could be used to deflect the car along the side of the barrier instead of absorbing the impact.

The more I look at the new Mazda CX-5, structure and see these tests, the more I agree with Mazda's decision to use more high strength steel.

Subaru has a unique advantage in developing for this test. Since the motor sits lower, this would allow for the crumple zone structure to be placed on top of the motor.
 

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Also, do you have a crash report to support that the Mercedes driver was wearing a seat belt? (Or any of the other data you present, for that matter.)
No side airbags in the MBZ. I took the crash report.
 

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No side airbags in the MBZ. I took the crash report.
What exact year and model is that C230? Edmunds is telling me so far that all the C230s with that front end should have side airbags. Not totally clear if that means curtain side airbags. In any case, even if they were there, they apparently didn't deploy.

Is there a public database of the crash reports we can find?

ETA: Not all German vehicles are the same, so no crying here. Such a generalization would be pointless.
 

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That is an '02 MBZ C230 Sport Coupe. You are correct it does have side airbags.
Since the initial impulse was a frontal impact there may not have been enough energy for the airbag module to deploy the side bags.

Crash reports are confidential except to the involved parties and attorneys. The law is here.
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d10/vc20012.htm
 

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Car companies could put roll cages in every car or... the crash foam from demolition man
 

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Let's just all wear helmets, have racing seats with five point harnesses, and roll cages. Problem solved.
 

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Or better yet, put down the EFFING phone and pay attention to driving. I am so sick of manufacturers trying to take control from drivers because the drivers are not doing their job. I don't need a car that parks itself because I learned how to park a car. I don't need a car that applies the brakes for me because I am looking at the road ahead and have the ability (and responsibility) to apply the brakes as needed. /rant.

The new crash test shows that the old tests were successful in the evolution in design. The former issues were problem areas that caused the highest claim payments by insurance companies. We now see that the highest injury claims are now coming from incedents that on the surface would be considered relitively minor accidents. The vehicles I have seen with this type of damage did not collide with another vehicle in motion, but with a fixed object. Generally, distracted driving caused the driver to veer slightly one way or the other from the lane into said object. At work there is currently a Sprinter with this type of damage.
 
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