- The Tesla Model Y has been named to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of Top Safety Pick+ vehicles for 2021. It is only the second Tesla vehicle to be deemed this safe by the IIHS.
- Previously, the only Tesla EV to qualify as a TSP+ was the 2019–2020 Model 3. Nearly 80 new 2021 and 2022 vehicles have been named TSP+ this year.
- To be named to the TSP+ list, a vehicle needs to score well on six crashworthiness tests as well as get an Advanced or Superior rating for its front crash prevention. It also needs to have highly rated headlights.
The latest vehicle to get the Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is the Tesla Model Y. The only other Tesla vehicle that was awarded IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ status was the 2019–2020 Model 3. The Model Y has also been given a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle needs three things, the IIHS has decided. First, it needs to have scored the top Good rating on a number of crash tests, including: driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, original side, roof strength, and head restraint tests. Second, it needs to have been given either an Advanced or Superior rating for available front crash prevention, including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. The Model Y managed to get Superior, despite Tesla’s using a camera-only system for its front sensor suite. Third, the headlights need to be considered either Acceptable or Good—and they must be standard equipment. The slightly lower Top Safety Pick rating category is exactly the same as TSP+, but with optional Acceptable or Good headlights.
The IIHS ran a number of 2021 Model Y electric vehicles through six crashworthiness tests to determine its rating. These crash tests include small-overlap front (driver and passenger side), moderate overlap front, original side test, roof strength, and head restraints and seats. Following the small overlap front test, engineers found that the driver’s-seat crash test dummy’s position indicated that “the driver’s survival space was maintained very well.” IIHS also said that the the frontal and side curtain airbags “worked well together to keep the head from coming close to any stiff structure or outside objects that could cause injury” and that “the driver’s space was maintained well, and risk of injuries to the dummy’s legs and feet was low.” Following the moderate overlap front crash test, the dummy’s head hit the side curtain airbag during rebound, but IIHS said that, overall, “the driver’s survival space was maintained very well.”
Almost 80 models from the 2021 or 2022 model year were named Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS this year. Tesla doesn’t do model years, opting for rolling updates, but the IIHS counts the current model as a 2021–2022 vehicle, and the TSP+ rating applies to any Model Y vehicles built after April 2021. There are 10 other Top Safety Pick+ vehicles in the mid-size luxury-car category that IIHS fit the Model Y into, including three versions of the Volvo V60, the Lexus IS, and the Acura TLX.