Tesla Model 3 crushes NHTSA's crash testing with a 5-star rating

Irving Hamilton
September 21, 2018

The Tesla Model 3 gets crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As a result, the Model 3 landed its Consumer Reports recommendation.

Tesla Inc.'s Model 3 sedan has been awarded a five-star rating by USA auto-safety agency National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in tests that are standard for cars in the United States.

The Model 3 follows the Model S and Model X, which have both aced the NHTSA's tests. Just like the Model 3, the Tesla Model X received flawless scores in all of the NHTSA's frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests.

The Model 3's across-the-board five-star rating is still relatively rare among new cars, especially small- to mid-size cars, crossovers, and SUVs. Very few new cars, if any, receive a two- or one-star rating on the NHTSA system. The Model 3 scored the highest possible marks in this test. The Model 3 also underwent side pole testing created to mimic the outcome of a Model 3 crashing into a fixed object like a sturdy tree. Again, both the driver and rear passenger areas showed the highest level of protection.

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Even the 2018 Toyota Camry, a sedan that matched the Model 3's ideal scores in every test, had a 9.9% rollover resistance. Tesla's use of ultra-high-strength steel and aluminum for the Model 3's body structure, as well as the vehicle's floor-mounted battery pack, provide further structural rigidity to the electric sedan. In a post last month on Twitter, Musk noted that the absence of a fossil fuel-powered engine in the Model 3 gives the vehicle longer crumple zones.

Consumers will have to wait a bit longer for results of the IIHS crash tests. It also required "advanced" or "superior" front-collision prevention technology and the top ("good") headlight rating.

The NHTSA conducted tests to simulate head-on collisions, crashes into side barriers and poles and rollovers, and the Model 3 earned the top rating in every category, according to the agency's website. That meant an "acceptable" rating, which will only allow Model 3 to get the second-tier IIHS award at best.

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