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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is rolling out its 2023 crash test results, and the EVs are disappointing. Only two SUVs garnered Top Safety Pick+ ratings. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E and Tesla’s Model Y topped the midsize SUV category out of 13 that are eligible. The IIHS says that the lineup of SUVs is found to have “inadequate front crash protection for passengers seated in the rear.”

What other midsize SUVs won in this IIHS safety category?

IIHS tests
2023 IIHS crash testing Mustang Mach-e EV | IIHS

Also, the Mustang Mach-E was the only midsize SUV to win top marks in every IIHS crash category. The Tesla Model Y shares an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating, but scored only an Acceptable grade in “Rear Passenger Restraints and Kinetics.”  While drivers receive the safest protections, IIHS president David Harkey says “only a handful extend that level of safety to the back seat.”

Besides the Mach-E and Model Y, the gas-powered Ford Explorer and Subaru Ascent were the only others in the IIHS safety category to receive a “Good” grade for safety. A “Marginal” safety rating went to the Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander, and Volkswagen Atlas. At the low end, the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler four-door, Mazda CX-9, and Nissan Murano all received a “Poor” rating. 

Why have the IIHS safety tests become stricter?

IIHS testing
2023 IIHS crash testing Tesla Model Y EV | IIHS

“Zeroing in on weaknesses in rear seat safety is an opportunity to make big gains in a short time since solutions that are already proven to work in the front can successfully be adapted for the rear,” said Marcy Edwards, the IIHS’ Senior Research Engineer. “The four good ratings in this round of testing show that some automakers are already doing it.”

Recently the IIHS has focused more on rear passenger protection. It has specific metric results from sensors located in the test dummy head, neck, chest, abdomen, and thigh. The IIHS testing has also added new tests for side crash protection and pedestrian crash prevention. Its headlight tests are also stricter. Part of the reason for the stricter tests is that in 2022 traffic fatalities jumped the highest in 20 years. Pedestrian crashes make up a larger part of that increase than in the past. 

How did this year compare to last year?

2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E | Ford

As a result, the 2023 testing rated only 28 vehicles earning a Top Safety Pick+ rating. Last year 65 vehicles landed in this category. And only 20 vehicles garnered the Top Safety Pick rating, down from 36 last year. “The number of winners is smaller this year because we’re challenging automakers to build on the safety gains they’ve already achieved, Harkey said. “These models are true standouts in both crashworthiness and crash prevention.”

However, some testing concentrating on roof strength, head restraint, and vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention, has substantially improved. So much, in fact, that the IIHS no longer conducts those tests. So automakers are making improvements, some of which are a result of these IIHS safety tests. 


Every Midsize SUV That Won an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award