Tesla takes top two safety spots

Tesla’s Model X can claim to be the safest SUV ever built after it became the first SUV to receive a full house of five-star crash ratings.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given lots of SUVs five-star ratings before. However, the Model X is the first SUV to receive a 5-star rating in all crash safety tests conducted.

Model X is Tesla’s first SUV. It became commercially available in late 2015 and now it holds the distinction of being the safest SUV with the lowest probability of injury tested by the NHTSA. It’s also the second safest vehicle tested by the NHTSA — Tesla Model S currently holds the top honour on the category.

According to the Tesla team, Model X owes its better crash performance to its ‘all-electric architecture and powertrain design’. The company also cites the placement of its lithium-ion battery pack as especially crucial. By mounting the battery pack beneath the floor of the vehicle, it creates a low centre of gravity, giving Model X the lowest risk of a rollover crash. It is usually in this category that most SUVs fail to achieve a five-star rating as having a high centre of gravity increases susceptibility to experiencing a rollover.

Aside from testing the rollover risk, the NHTSA also assesses a car’s safety during a collision that results in frontal impact, side impact or pole impact (skidding sideways into a pole or tree). All tests are done on both the driver and passenger side.

NHTSA assesses more than just the vehicle’s structure which should be strong enough to absorb as much energy and minimize intrusion. It also tests the seatbelt and airbag restraint system which should be able to keep passengers safe and limit injuries to a minimum in case a crash takes place.

Model X achieved five stars in all categories and sub-categories, meaning that the chance of walking away from a crash without serious injury is 93%.