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IIHS News | October 2, 2014Subscribe

Small overlap results for 3 large luxury cars run the gamut; Infiniti Q70 earns good rating, Top Safety Pick+ award

ARLINGTON, Va. — Results for three large luxury cars put through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap front test for the first time are a mixed bag, with the Infiniti Q70 achieving a good rating, the Lincoln MKS earning a poor rating, and the BMW 5 series earning a marginal. The MKS and 5 series are the worst performers out of seven large luxury cars tested so far for small overlap protection.

In the test of the Q70, the driver space was maintained reasonably well, and the dummy's movement was properly controlled. The dummy's head hit the front airbag, which stayed in place, and the side curtain airbag provided sufficient coverage to protect the head from side structure and intruding objects. Measures taken from the dummy showed low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity.

The good small overlap rating applies to the 2014-15 Q70 and the 2013 Infiniti M, as the car was previously called. With good ratings in the Institute's four other crashworthiness evaluations and an available front crash prevention system, the Q70 qualifies for the 2014 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

The performance of the Lincoln MKS in the small overlap test couldn't have been more different. The driver space was severely limited after the crash, with the structure pushing in as much as 12 inches. The steering column moved 5 inches inward and 6 inches to the right. The dummy's head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off the left side and hitting the instrument panel. Injury measures from the dummy showed that left hip injuries would be likely and left knee and lower leg injuries would be possible. The vehicle's poor rating applies to 2009-15 models.

The BMW 5 series performed somewhat better, earning a marginal rating. Like the MKS, the 5 series also saw as much as 12 inches of intrusion. However, there was considerably less intrusion in the upper interior. The dummy's movement was well controlled, with both the front and side airbags doing their jobs. Injury measures indicated that left leg injuries would be likely. The marginal rating applies to 2011-15 models.

IIHS introduced the small overlap evaluation in 2012. In the test, which is more challenging than either the head-on crashes conducted by the government or the Institute's moderate overlap test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph. The crash replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole.

A good or acceptable small overlap rating is a requirement for Top Safety Pick, along with good ratings in the Institute's moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must also earn a basic, advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

The 2014 Q70's optional front crash prevention system includes a forward collision warning system that meets the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's criteria. However, the feature's automatic braking function failed to reduce the vehicle's speed in track tests conducted by IIHS. For this reason, it earns only a basic rating. The 2015 Q70 has an upgraded system that may perform better in track tests. However, IIHS hasn't had an opportunity to test it yet, so for now the basic rating remains.

The Q70 is the fourth model from Nissan/Infiniti to earn either Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ for 2014. It is the fifth large luxury car to qualify for the 2014 Top Safety Pick+ award. The others are the Hyundai Genesis, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, Volvo S80 and Acura RLX.

Tests of three other luxury cars — the Audi A6, Cadillac CTS and Lexus GS — had been planned, but the manufacturers told IIHS they are making changes to improve small overlap protection. The Institute's policy is to wait to test a vehicle until such changes have been made if they are planned within a reasonable time frame. These models will be tested early next year.

"The five manufacturers that have already achieved the TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation for their cars are offering consumers state-of-the-art safety," says IIHS President Adrian Lund. "Meanwhile, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus and Lincoln are playing catch-up in the large luxury category."

Watch the crash test videos: Infiniti Q70 | BMW 5 series | Lincoln MKS

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