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Recently, the IIHS shared its official roster of Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ winners for 2023. And it’s a long list, meaning today’s cars are just getting safer, regardless of their segments. But one high-profile brand, with only one vehicle appearance on the IIHS car safety lists, might shock you. 

Among the IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ winners, the Tesla Model Y earns the distinction this year. And it might make a difference to you, especially if safety is a top priority and you had your heart set on owning a new Tesla this year.

A blue 2023 Tesla Model Y small electric SUV is driving on the road.
The 2023 Tesla Model Y | Tesla

Top Safety Pick vs. the Top Safety Pick+

The IIHS, which stands for Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, performs rigorous crash testing and safety evaluations on every new crop of vehicles on the market. And the results of those testing initiatives earn certain vehicles top safety distinctions. The Top Safety Pick awards were first issued in 2006, according to US News. And the stricter Top Safety Pick+ awards came in 2013.

In 2020, the IIHS went back and tightened up the ratings criteria even more for vehicle safety performance. And when the 2020 roster of Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards came out, the public was shocked to see how much shorter that list was than in 2019.

Today, vehicles earning an “acceptable” or “good” rating can qualify for the Top Safety Pick awards. However, a “good” rating is a requirement for the Top Safety Pick+ awards. And there are new evaluation conditions for TSP+, including the “night vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention tests.”

The lone Tesla Model Y among the winners

If you explore the IIHS official list of 2023 Top Safety Pick winners, you’ll see some familiar favorite vehicles, including several Honda, Subaru, and Toyota models. But if you’re looking for a Tesla, you’ll only find the 2023 Model Y. The 2023 Tesla Models 3, S, and X are absent from this year’s roster of safety winners.

The Model Y earns “good” ratings across the board in the crashworthiness roster of evaluations. These tests looked at all angles of crash testing, along with roof strength, head restraints, and seats. The Tesla Model Y also achieved greens across the crash avoidance and mitigation tests, including evaluation of the frontal crash prevention for both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian scenarios.

Other midsize luxury SUV safety winners


How Much Does a Fully Loaded 2023 Tesla Model Y Cost?

The IIHS’s mission is to reduce loss resulting from motor vehicle crashes. And these evaluations and annual awards signify strong safety contenders in crash avoidance, crashworthiness, and overall safety. Some of the other IIHS safety winners in the midsize luxury SUV class include the 2023 Lincoln Nautilus, which earned the TSP award.

The Volvo XC90 and XC90 Recharge both earned TSP+ awards. Acura had two vehicles step into the TSP+ winners’ circle, too, with the Acura MDX and RDX 4-door SUVs. Lexus may be the star of this vehicle segment, though, with three contenders earning TSP+, the NX, the NX Plug-in Hybrid, and the RX.

So, if you’re thinking a Tesla is your next vehicle purchase, and safety matters most in your decision, the Tesla Model Y succeeded in earning its official IIHS award for Top Safety Pick+ this year.

Editor’s note: Updated for clarity