The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car has earned the Top Safety Pick award, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s second highest honor. However, it only applies to cars equipped with the optional front collision system with automatic braking. The status also applies to similarly equipped model-year 2018 Bolt EVs built after March of 2018 when headlight aim was adjusted to correct for excessive glare.
The 2019 Bolt EV earned a good score in five crash tests and the required acceptable score in IIHS’ new passenger-side small overlap front crash test. The standards for Top Safety Pick were toughened for 2019 to require an acceptable or good score (out of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in that new test.
IIHS said that after that test was conducted for the 2019 model year, GM notified the safety agency that it had adjusted aim for the Bolt EV’s headlights during the 2018 model year to reduce excessive glare that had resulted in a poor rating. New IIHS testing confirmed that the modified lights qualified for the required acceptable rating. The adjusted lights are on all 2019 Bolt EVs and on 2018 models built after March 2018, making those later 2018s qualify as a Top Safety Pick, too.
The Bolt also got the top score of superior (out of superior, advanced, basic or none) for its optional forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking. The system avoided front collisions from both 12 mph and 25 mph in IIHS testing.
The Top Safety Pick award is the second of two given by IIHS. The Bolt missed out on the top award, Top Safety Pick Plus, because of its acceptable scores in the passenger-side small overlap frontal crash test and its modified headlight system, which still fell short of the top score of good required for the Plus award.
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It is difficult to compare the Bolt EV with other electric vehicles because few have undergone the full battery of IIHS testing as yet, including the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3. One other EV that has is the Tesla Model 3, which earned a Top Safety Pick Plus award; the larger Tesla Model S has not been tested since 2017, when it failed to earn an award. Among gas-electric hybrids, the 2019 Toyota Prius hatchback also is a Top Safety Pick, and the Honda Insight sedan is a Top Safety Pick Plus.
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