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Tesla Model 3 receives Top Safety Pick+ prize

Tesla joins Audi in celebrating top honours in IIHS safety testing.
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The Tesla Model 3 has been awarded a Top Safety Pick+ award by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

It comes just a month after the IIHS bestowed the Audi e-tron with the same award, making it the first EV to receive the coveted nod. This year, the Hyundai Nexo also earned a Top Safety Pick+ award, the first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to do so.

The Jaguar I-Pace has yet to be assessed by the IIHS, though it received five stars in Euro NCAP testing.

Earlier Euro NCAP testing yielded scores for the Model 3 surpassing the I-Pace and e-tron. For example, in adult occupant safety, the Model 3 scored 96% against the Jaguar and Audi’s 91%.

The Model 3 performed better in IIHS testing than the Model S when it was last assessed in 2017. The larger Tesla didn’t meet the threshold for either the Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick awards.

Top Safety Pick+ is the highest honour awarded to vehicles the IIHS has crash-tested. Though the title suggests one winner, multiple cars in a segment can receive the award.

To achieve a Top Safety Pick+ award, a car must receive a 'Good' score – the highest rating – in the driver and passenger-side small overlap, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests, as well as in headlight testing.

Front crash prevention systems are assessed on a scale of 'Basic' to 'Superior' and a Top Safety Pick+ award winner must receive at least an 'Advanced' in this category.

The Model 3 received the highest overall grade in every test. It even received the highest grade in most sub-categories, excluding lower leg/foot injuries to the driver where it was marked ‘Adequate’. It received the same score in assessment of its child seat anchors, the IIHS deeming the Model 3’s anchors to be too deep in the seat.

With its Top Safety Pick+ nod, the Model 3 joins the Lexus ES, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class in the mid-size luxury car category.

A car can receive an 'Acceptable' passenger-side small overlap front test rating and an 'Acceptable' headlight rating and still get a Top Safety Pick award.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV received an ‘Acceptable’ score on the first but only a ‘Poor’ for its headlights, therefore missing out on both the Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick awards.

The total number of Top Safety Pick + awards per brand this year were:

  • Subaru: 7
  • Kia and Hyundai: 6
  • BMW and Mercedes-Benz: 4
  • Genesis and Toyota: 3Audi and Lexus: 2
  • Acura, Honda, Lincoln, Mazda, Tesla and Volvo: 1