Which cars offer the best protection against whiplash injury?
Whiplash injuries are best avoided: the most effective protection comes from a good seat with a head support positioned properly. Finding a good one has become easier since Euro NCAP started assessing new cars’ whiplash protection in rear-impact tests in 2008. But, despite huge improvements, the best performing aren’t necessarily the latest models.
Since 2008, Euro NCAP has awarded a green “good” rating for seats that score three points or higher. The rating is determined through a range of assessments that include a simulated rear impact crash using a dummy with sensors in its neck.
Overall, car seat designs have improved enormously in recent years. Here are the highest anti-whiplash scores* recorded so far, along with the year the car launched:
- Opel-Vauxhall Astra (2009) 3.7 points
- Ford C-MAX (2010) 3.7 points
- Ford Grand C-MAX (2010) 3.7 points
- Geely Emgrand EC7 (2011) 3.7 points
- Skoda Yeti (2009) 3.6 points
- Mazda CX-5 (2012) 3.6 points
- Volvo V60 and V60 Plug-In Hybrid (2012) 3.6 points
- Seat Alhambra (2010) 3.6 points
- VW Sharan (2010) 3.6 points
- VW Golf Cabriolet (2011) 3.6 points
To reduce the risk of whiplash injuries, buyers should look for seats with scores of 3.1+ in a new car. It is worth noting, however, that the scores are an assessment of the front seats’ performance in a rear crash, not the whole vehicle. Heavier vehicles accelerate less when hit from behind by a smaller vehicle and this will mitigate the whiplash effect to a degree.
It is curious to see the relatively unknown Geely Emgrand scoring so highly on whiplash. The car only managed a four-star rating overall, with a poor pedestrian protection score of 42%. All the others listed above achieved five-star ratings when they launched.The Chinese-made sedan is unlikely to be high on many buyer’s shopping lists, but it shows that good whiplash protection is not hard to provide.
It’s tempting to list the cars with the worst whiplash scores in Euro NCAP’s whiplash tests, but it wouldn’t be fair. Why? Some of the best-selling cars in Europe haven’t been tested for whiplash – they’ve been on the market that long.