2019 Tesla Model 3 Crashes Like a Dream, IIHS Says

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2019 tesla model 3 crashes like a dream iihs says

Tesla scored its first big win with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this week after the group graced the 2019 Model 3 with its coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. “Vehicles with alternative powertrains have come into their own,” IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said. “There’s no need to trade away safety for a lower carbon footprint when choosing a vehicle.”

The Audi e-Tron and hydrogen-powered Hyundai Nexo also qualified. But Tesla’s position as North America’s electric vehicle sales leader is held by a wide margin, making its crash-test results a tad more noteworthy.

According to the IIHS, Tesla’s most affordable model earned good ratings across the board for crashworthiness. Standard frontal crash prevention systems garnered a superior rating, avoiding collisions in both the 12 mph and 25 mph tests, and its only available headlights earn a good rating. It also held up structurally, including in the aftermath of the dreaded driver-side small overlap crash test. The IIHS noted 8 inches of intrusion along the lower door-hinge pillar, which it claimed posed a moderate risk of injury to a driver’s legs. Upon inspecting the vehicle and dummy, the research group recorded no other injuries.

Considering the amount of media attention thrown at the brand’s optional Autopilot system, with some accusing it of being unsafe and dependent upon misleading marketing tactics, we expected the IIHS to weigh in on the Model 3’s semi-autonomous features. But its assessment was not required to earn the unit a Top Safety Pick+ denotation. While crash avoidance systems were tested, performing well, Autopilot was not mentioned once by the outlet. Braking distance, which has also proven to be a contentious issue, went similarly unmentioned.

Honestly, it seems like an oversight. One bad headlight ranking is enough to dump a vehicle off its podium at the IIHS. In fact, Chevrolet’s Bolt received no special awards due to its lackluster headlamp performance. But it was already off pace to be considered for the group’s top honor.

From the IIHS:

The Bolt, a small car, also performed well in the IIHS crashworthiness tests. It earns good ratings in all of them except for the passenger-side small overlap test, in which it rates acceptable.

In that test, the passenger dummy’s movement was less than ideal. After hitting the frontal airbag during the test, the dummy’s head moved toward the gap between the frontal and side airbags, leaving it vulnerable to contact with hard parts of the vehicle interior.

The acceptable passenger-side rating would have been enough for the Bolt to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK award when equipped with optional front crash prevention, but the Bolt’s only available headlights earn a poor rating, primarily because of excessive glare to oncoming drivers.

Other vehicles have also been prohibited from receiving awards due to imperfect headlamps, making us feel like the IIHS should go bananas with its testing requirements (incorporating every aspect possible) or create a separate category for prevention/visibility. We know it’s a lot to ask for in exchange for a smidgen of clarity, but it would go a long way to distinguish physical crash performance from preventative safety.

Curious consumers can still do the research themselves, however. By hitting up the IIHS webpage and examining vehicles individually, web surfers will notice each category is broken down into “good,” “acceptable,” “marginal” or “poor” rankings. In the case of the Model 3, that will still showcase enviable results — with the only dark smudge being an acceptable rating for child seat ease of use.

[Images: IIHS]

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Sep 20, 2019

    Very last part of the video: Audi e-Tron has an electric-powered charging door? Boo and thumbs down. (Also opens the wrong way for snow and ice intrusion during charging.)

  • Akear Akear on Sep 20, 2019

    The Mustang and Tesla are probably the best selling American cars in Europe. I mean Europeans actually want to buy them! The US industry is not a lost cause after all.

  • Lou_BC Floor pan replaced? Are these BOF? The engine being a 2 barrel drops value as a collectible. Nope. Hard pass.
  • Kcflyer It will be good to see sleepy and Trump back together again. Not since one won the election and the other was made president has such a woeful collection of humanity gotten so much attention,
  • Bullnuke With his choosing sides in the current labor negotiations, the President should cut through all the red tape of the process and, using his executive powers, cause his Secretary of the Department of Labor to order the Big 2.5 to accept whatever is asked by his choice - the UAW. This would save the strike fund money and allow the automakers to restart the assembly lines quickly.
  • THX1136 Maybe Mark Worman/Graveyard Carz will see this, buy the thing and restore it to it's original condition.
  • THX1136 Fain's comments are ridiculous to these ears. "Struggling to get by. . ." - really? The only reason any would be struggling is due to living beyond said individuals means (spending money like the gubment does). Both political entities 'visiting' the situation is one more reason for this baby to vote for neither.