2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term (7)

2013 Tesla Model S: Is This the Safest Car Sold?

August 21, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

In a recent update we noted how the 2013 Tesla Model S earned a top five-star rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's battery of tests.

Interestingly, Tesla posted a press release about those results a few days ago. Basically, Tesla claims that the Model S not only gets a five-star rating, it has the best scores of any car sold, period.

Now, it's true that no car can earn better than a published NHTSA five-star rating. So in that sense, the Model S is equal to any other car with five stars across the board, such as a Honda Odyssey or Volvo S60.

But Tesla says that detailed, behind-the-scenes crash information is provided to automakers, and from that information, it's possible to extrapolate how five-star cars compare to each other. And from this, Tesla says in its press release that the Model S does better, or has the lowest likelihood of injury, of any car sold.

From our standpoint, Tesla's claims are unverifiable. But I found the overall information in Tesla's press release to be quite interesting nonetheless.

You can read the full release here.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor


  • mercedesfan mercedesfan Posts:

    Tesla's side-impact crash structure is pretty darn cool and I think it probably is better in that regard than anything else. However, the rest of it struck me as just marketing mumbo-jumbo. Besides, NHTSA hasn't even formally tested any other $50k+ luxury car so the Model S can't even be compared to anything else it competes against. Having said that, despite the numerous issues I have had with my Model S I have never questioned the integrity of its structure. It feels every bit as solid and impenetrable as my S550.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    "Tesla's claims are unverifiable." That's the heart of it. How about revealing some details from this report that support their conclusion. Otherwise, this might as well be a junior-high research paper.

  • jim_in_nj_ jim_in_nj_ Posts:

    @quadricycle, " How about revealing some details from this report that support their conclusion." Um, you just have to click on the link at the end of the article. Here are a few details: NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, ho

  • The Honda Odyssey does not get five stars across the board; it only received four stars on the rollover test. One verifiable point (all public data posted on safecar.gov) is that there are only four production vehicles that get five stars in ALL subcategories AND in ALL seating positions: Tesla Model S, Cadillac ATS, Chevy Camaro, and Volvo S60. And, of those four cars, the Tesla Model S has the lowest Risk of Rollover at 5.7% (versus 8.7%, 10% and 10.1% for the others). Therefore, even without the non-published VSS, I think it is safe to say that it is currently the safest car being produced (by NHTSA standards).

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @jim_in_nj: Ah, thanks, I was completely wrong there. Those are definitely some impressive numbers, although I'm sure Tesla selected the best for the press release. I would love to see the full report released to them though, but its not like any other ma

  • kudos to Edmunds for being the only outlet I found that actually said that the 'news' came from a Tesla press release. Everyone else, that I saw, made it sound like the NHTSA put the news out there.--- And now the NHTSA are saying "you can't say you scored better than a 5" -- But Tesla learned from Hyundai and Ford that if you get the really good numbers out there it doesn't matter if they change a little later :)

  • awakeinwa awakeinwa Posts:

    if you're a numbers guy, Tesla's presser made a lot of sense. Passenger volume remaining after pole intrusion is a good proxy to compare one 5 star rating with another

  • awakeinwa awakeinwa Posts:

    The thing is, once you try one, you know how well built it is, down to its 1mm tolerance, which nobody reports on anymore. Use to be a popular speclet.

Leave a Comment

Research Models


Edmunds Insurance Estimator

TCO® insurance data for this vehicle coming soon...

For an accurate quote, contact our trusted partner below.

* Explanation
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411