The Tesla Model 3 has now been designated as an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ three years in a row. This is the same car CEO Elon Musk said earned the lowest probability of injury ever recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, though the NHTSA didn't approve of Musk sharing those details.

It's important to note that there's no expectation for a car to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ designation just because it received it in the past. This is because most year IIHS makes its top honors even more difficult to attain. However, this year, it stuck with the same criteria used in 2020. IIHS announced 90 total winners this year, up from 64 winners in 2020.

IIHS explains the 2021 Top Safety Pick+ criteria as follows:

  • Good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests
  • Advanced or Superior rating for available front crash prevention — vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations
  • Acceptable or Good headlights standard

What sets the "Plus" winners apart from the standard Top Safety Pick winners?

Top Safety Pick winners don't need to have Acceptable or Good headlights as standard. However, they do need to have them "available."

IIHS President David Markey noted that automakers continue to step up their game. As the tests have become much more difficult to achieve over the years, manufacturers have made notable changes to improve vehicle crashworthiness. This is especially true when it comes to how well their headlights illuminate the road, as well as their front crash prevention technology.

The 2021 Model 3 not only earns the Top Safety Pick+ designation, but also earns it with a near-perfect score. This means it didn't just barely meet the requirements, it met them with flying colors.

The Model 3 earned the top rating of Good in all six crash tests and a Good rating for its standard headlights. It also earned the top rating of Superior for its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention technology and an Advanced rating for its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention technology.

Watch the video below for more details about IIHS' 2021 Top Safety Pick designations:

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