Let's Applaud These Affordable Cars for Their Tesla Model 3-like Crash Safety

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
lets applaud these affordable cars for their tesla model 3 like crash safety

Sorry, was that too snarky? Our headline alludes to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recent awarding of five stars in all crash test categories to the Tesla Model 3 — a bit of news that’s made the rounds lately. It’s a worthy achievement, so hats off to Tesla for building a car that can take a beating.

However, if you’re still waiting patiently for Tesla to deliver your car, here’s a listing of vehicles costing less than the current “base” Model 3 (the $44,000 Long Range model) that are just as safe in a collision, and are available to buy at a dealership near you. Like, even today.

Tesla’s achievement isn’t an everyday occurrence, despite countless vehicles boasting a “5-star safety rating” from the NHTSA. That’s an overall score; an amalgam of front- and side-impact tests, plus a rollover tests. Available safety technology factors into the score, too. It’s common for vehicles to drive away with an overall five-star score after receiving four out of five stars in one or two of the categories. Actually, someone arriving via time machine from the 1980s would be surprised to see how close many plebian vehicles come to acing it.

My last car, for example — a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze that liked making fluids disappear — received five out of five stars in both the front- and side-impact tests. Available safety tech was sufficient, and only the rollover test suffered in any way, with NHTSA awarding four out of five stars for that hurdle. Regardless, the NHTSA stamped it with a highly marketable 5-Star Safety Rating. The Cruze’s second-gen successor also gained this rating.

But we’re not talking about “very good” here — we’re talking straight A students. So, here are vehicles with MSRPs below that of the Model 3 LR that leave nothing wanting in terms of safety, at least as far as the NHTSA is concerned.

  • Ford Mustang (going back years, too)
  • Kia Optima (see above)
  • Genesis G80
  • Acura TLX
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Civic (Coupe excluded)
  • Toyota Camry
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Nissan Maxima

This list could be incomplete, as several new models haven’t yet undergone testing. For example, the NHTSA still hasn’t offered a score to the 2019 Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra full-size pickups, among others. The safety agency never even got around to testing the Kia Niro or Hyundai Ioniq, despite those vehicles not being new for the looming model year.

Regardless, suffice it to say there’s plenty of affordable options for buyers wanting a perfect safety score. If you’re more worried about tech annoyances and reliability issues, head over to J.D. Power.

By the way — have you noticed something unusual about this list of vehicles? That’s right, they’re all members of a vanishing race of traditional passenger cars.

[Image: Honda]

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4 of 34 comments
  • TimK TimK on Sep 24, 2018

    ICE cars are crash tested with the fuel tank filled with a non-combustible liquid. Why are EVs crash tested with their batteries discharged/inerted?

  • CoastieLenn CoastieLenn on Sep 24, 2018

    Here's my main question with Tesla. I don't give a hot wet fart who does what to who, who tweets what, how much money they're making or losing on each car. The masses have spoken well so far for their product. My question is: Assuming the worst and Tesla folds in a year due to fiscal mismanagement or whatever the case may be, what happens to the cars? The car itself is so highly tied to the corporate overlords that you can't even get an independent to work on it. You can't get replacement parts without huge hoops to jump thru. You can salvage them (lookin at you Rich Rebuilds) but there goes your supercharging abilities. If the company folds, there goes ALL supercharging. So now you're left with home 120/240 connections. Whats the end result for the cars?

    • See 1 previous
    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Sep 25, 2018

      Where do you get an American Motors car serviced? Same answer. *Somebody* would buy the rights to service them, and perhaps even produce spare parts. Given that there are already over 200k Teslas just in the US, it's not a bad market to service. As for charging, you can charge a Tesla on any existing fast charger, using an adapter. The Supercharger network is ideal for distance travel, but is not required. Some other EV mfr would probably buy it, and I've felt for years that they should join Tesla's charging protocol instead of fighting it.

  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.
  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.
  • Brett Woods 2023 Corvette base model.
  • Paul Taka Hi, where can I find 1982 Honda prelude junkyards in 50 states
  • Poltergeist Make sure you order the optional Dungdai fire suppression system.