The Tesla Model S fell short of earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award.
For a vehicle to qualify for the Top Safety Pick award, IIHS said it must earn “good” ratings in all five crashworthiness tests – small overlap front, moderated overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats – and come with a front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating.
The “+” is awarded to vehicles that meet all the above criteria and come with “good” or “acceptable” headlights.
Ratings for crashworthiness and headlights are good, acceptable, marginal and poor.
IIHS said the Model S “ran into problems in the test when the safety belt allowed the dummy’s torso to move too far forward. That allowed the dummy’s head to hit the steering wheel hard through the airbag.”
IIHS also noted the 2017 Model S isn’t available with anything other than poor-rated headlights. The automaker told IIHS that it is working with its supplier to improve the headlights. IIHS will evaluate the new ones when they are available.
One Model S variant in particular, the high-performance P100D, was also dinged for its roof strength. The P100D has the same roof structure as other Model S variants, IIHS said, but noted that because the car has a larger, and heavier, battery it earned only an acceptable rating for that test.
Two other green vehicles, the Toyota Prius Prime and Chevrolet Volt, earned the Top Safety Pick+ designation for crash test and crash avoidance performance, the organization said.
IIHS plans to test the latest EV to enter the market, the Chevrolet Bolt, once it becomes widely available this year.