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Tesla Model S, BMW i3 Disappoint in Crash Tests

And a high-performance version of the Model S, the P100D, got a lower ranking on the roof strength test because its larger battery makes it much heavier, so the roof might not hold up as well in a rollover crash. At least not yet.

The Model S sedan earned an acceptable rating in one of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's five crash tests, a level shy of the good rating needed to qualify for the group's Top Safety Pick accolade, according to a statement.

"Measurements from the dummy indicated that injuries to the head, along with the lower right leg, would be possible in a real-world crash of the same severity", the IIHS said in a press release. In order to be eligible for TSP+, vehicles must score "Good" in all five crash tests, and they must also contain some degree of forward crash protection. The Model S' headlights were also panned. Consumer Reports gave the 2016 Model S an overall score of 88, which included an "excellent" rating for owner satisfaction, to rank the vehicle No. 2 among ultra luxury cars.

Zuby added: "BMW clearly thought a lot about safety when designing the i3". The Tesla Model S and BMW i3 were not among that group. The Prius Prime earned the institutes top award, while the BMW i3 came up lacking in head restraint and seat evaluations.

All received high marks, but only two earned the 2017 Top Safety Pick Plus Award - the Toyota Prius Prime and the Chevy Volt.

IIHS noted that the Model S ratings apply to 2016 and 2017 cars built after October 2016.

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Unfortunately for Tesla, the 2017 Model S only achieved an "acceptable" rating in that particular test. Tesla says it is working with its supplier to improve the headlights, and IIHS will evaluate the new ones when they are available. If a vehicle meets the requirements and passes the assessments, it can earn the "Plus" moniker if its headlights are found to be good or acceptable, as explained in a video below. In the test, only a portion of the front crash structure of the vehicle is involved and the angle of the auto makes it challenging for automakers to design proper seatbelt and airbag systems to protect the driver.

However, the IIHS says that the i3 and Model S won't require extensive modifications like the up-for-a-redesign Leaf does.

Ratings for crashworthiness and headlights are good, acceptable, marginal and poor.

Two plug-in hybrids tested at the same time, meanwhile, did better in the ratings. Its standard front crash prevention system earns a superior rating, and its only available headlights earn an acceptable rating.

The Prius Prime is the plug-in version of the regular Prius hybrid, previously a Top Safety Pick Plus victor.

Conversely, the Volt can go longer in electric-only mode at 53 miles while the Prius tops out at 25 miles.

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