Among all of the battles around range, infotainment, charging time, and cargo space, safety — above all else — is where the real electric battle should take place.
Well before any electric vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, is available to customers, it must be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States. Using the tests and scores performed by the NHTSA, cars are assigned a safety rating out of 5 and can use this score to help sell their vehicle.
While electric vehicles offer a lot of conveniences including charging at home, it’s equally important to know which are the safest EVs around.
Even as cars, EVs included, are safer than they have ever been, let’s take a look at the 7 safest EVs on the road today.
How is Vehicle Safety Testing Performed?
For many car buyers, NHTSA scores are important, but it’s not just this department which lends credibility to overall safety claims. This additional credibility spot goes to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which can award a vehicle with either a Top Safety Pick or, for the very safest cars on the road, a Top Safety Pick+ mark.
During their tests, the IIHS will put EVs through all of its tests, including a full frontal collision, roof integrity tests, and a multitude of overlap collisions to see how well they perform up to speeds of 40 miles per hour. Because of this stringent testing and the results manufacturers have learned from them, the IIHS has said between 2011 and 2019, electric vehicles saw a 40% reduction in injury claims.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the safest electric vehicles right now.
Tesla Model Y
Highly regarded as one of the safest vehicles on the road today, the Tesla Model Y has been a consistent winner of the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for the last three years in a row.
The Model Y is a 5-star winner for overall front, side, and rollover testing, which helps solidify its place as one of the safest EVs around. Although the Model Y has a 7% chance of a rollover as compared to a 6% chance for the Model 3, these numbers are well below the industry average across all vehicle testing.
The only place the Model Y fell down is in the headlight test where it received an Acceptable rating (Good is the best) and received a similar rating for the ease of use of its child restraint Latch function.
Available in three different trim levels with Standard, Long Range, and Performance, the Tesla Model Y starts at $49,990 (as of April 2023) and can achieve as much as 330 miles on a single charge. The list of standard safety equipment includes auto emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, pre-collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assistance, surround sound camera, and auto high beams.
Tesla Model 3
Also achieving a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, the Model 3 receives Good marks nearly across the board, with the same Acceptable rating around the ease of use around the Latch for a child seat. The Model 3 also receives a similarly impressive five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, having achieved five stars on every test the government agency performs on vehicles.
Right from the initial release of the Model 3, Tesla showed early indicators it would be a safe vehicle after it achieved the lowest probability of injury for any vehicle ever tested by the NHTSA. Between its efficient crumble zone and advanced restraint system aided by seatbelts, the company has added its own specially designed airbags to protect the heads of occupants traveling in the vehicle at the time of a crash.
The Tesla Model 3 starts at $41,990 for its RWD edition with 272 miles of range or you can opt for the AWD Dual-Motor trim level starting at $52,990 with 315 miles of range.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Receiving a Top Safety Pick score from the IIHS is no easy feat, but it’s all the more reason Ford should be celebrating the success of its Mustang Mach-E.
Like the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, the Mustang was dinged around the ease-of-use around its child restraint latch as well as a Good to Marginal score around how well its headlights help with crash avoidance. Had it received a Good all around for the headlights, the Ford would have easily earned the highest rating of a Top Safety Pick+.
Ford can also add a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA as of November 2022, which praised the car for its performance with side impact, side barrier, and rollover resistance testing. To help achieve these scores, Ford has included a number of safety features inside the vehicle, including auto high-beam headlights, blind spot monitoring, and post-collision braking with Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0. The latter feature ties closely in with adaptive cruise control to ensure the Mustang Mach-E doesn’t get too close to other cars on the road.
As of April 2023, only two trim levels of the Ford Mustang Mach-E are available with a starting price of $57,995 for its California Route 1 trim, which offers 312 miles.
One of the more luxurious electric SUVs on the road today, the Audi E-Tron is also among the safest vehicles, period.
Earning itself a Top Safety Pick+ score from the IIHS, the Audi even beats out the Tesla with a Good on its child restraint latch ease-of-use, so that’s one bragging right for Audi. Similarly, the E-Tron also scored a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, though its combined rating for a single frontal incident for both passenger and driver only achieved four stars.
Along with its many notable technology inclusions, the Audi includes the ability to scan the road ahead and provide a warning in case of an impending collision. Rear cross traffic assist ensures blind spots are covered while also helping you safely exit a parking space and automatically braking if the Audi detects movement.
The Audi E-Tron Q4 starts at around $49,800 MSRP and offers up to 265 miles of range on a single charger while charging from 5-80% in as little as 36 minutes on a DC fast charger.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 has already shown itself to be one of the more popular crossover SUVs on the road in direct competition with the Tesla Model Y.
This competition extends well beyond range in the form of safety as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 has also earned the top score of a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS. Where the Ioniq 5 falls down a little is with a Marginal score on seat belt reminders for children as well as the ease-of-use around latches for child seats.
Additionally, the Ioniq 5 only earned an Acceptable rating for Structure and safety cage, though the report indicates that there was still sufficient space around the driver for a high chance of survivability. Hyundai does include seven airbags with the Ioniq 5, including one between the driver and passenger to avoid a potential head injury.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 starts with an MSRP of $41,450 and is available with a range of up to 303 miles on a single charge. On a DC fast charger, the Ioniq 5 can recharge from 10-80% in as little as 18 minutes.
Earning itself a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, the Volkswagen ID.4 is yet another crossover EV that can celebrate top safety ratings. Likewise, the Volkswagen ID.4 earned itself a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS and even bested the Tesla Model 3 and Y with a Good score for ease of use around the child restraint latch.
Volkswagen notes that the ID.4 includes a suite of both passive and active safety features along with six airbags regardless of trim level. The use of Volkswagen’s IQ.Drive system also enables a front radar, front camera, and front assist to help avoid forward collisions as well as enable emergency braking around pedestrians jumping out in front of the ID.4.
The ID.4 has a starting MSRP of $38,995 and is available in multiple trim levels, each of which offers IQ.Drive as a standard feature. The available range for the ID.4 can go as high as 275 miles on a single charge and the company is offering new buyers up to three years of 30-minute charging sessions at any Electrify America DC fast charging station.
Built off the same platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, it will come as little surprise the Kia EV6 also earned top safety scores.
Scoring a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, the EV6 found itself with excellent ratings across the board with the exception of a few key ears. Headlight crash avoidance, which varies by trim level, did receive a Poor rating as being inadequate when the drivers turned to the right with low beams on. With high beams on, the opposite was true as visibility was inadequate on the left side of the vehicle.
These dings aside, Like the Hyundai, the Kia also received an Acceptable rating for structure and safety cage, though it was noted a strong likelihood of survivability was present. As of April 2023, the Kia EV6 has not been tested by the NHTSA nor has any indication been provided as to when possible testing would commence. Extra safety features do include surround view monitoring, auto emergency highway braking, forward-facing cameras for detecting pedestrians, and blind spot monitoring.
The Kia EV6 starts with an MSRP of $48,700 for its standard RWD trim and offers a range of up to 310 miles on its GT-Line trim level.
All too often when an electric car gets into an accident, especially a Tesla, it makes the news and raises fears about the safety of electric cars. All this proves is that fears of EV accidents warrant attention, but not necessarily the accidents themselves.
The IIHS goes out of its way to note that one of the biggest fears around EV ownership, a battery pack exploding on impact, has never occurred throughout all of its years of EV testing. Because of this, not only is it safe, pun intended, to say that EVs are very safe to drive, they are almost safer than gas-powered vehicles because of all of the new safety features manufacturers are including.
Breaking EV News
June 9, 2023 — Yesterday, General Motor’s (GM) CEO Mary Barra and Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter Spaces that GM’s EVs will soon be able to charge at 12,000 of Tesla’s Superchargers. At the start of 2024, Ford and GM EV owners will be able to recharge using an adaptor. And starting in 2025, both companies’ EVs will feature Tesla’s North American Charging Standard connector.
While Ford and GM EV owners will undoubtedly appreciate the convenience of being able to recharge at Tesla’s Superchargers, the collaboration “…could help move the industry toward a single North American charging standard,” according to Mary Barra.
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